I am reading a biography on George Bellows and came upon his involvement in the pivotal Armory Exhibition in New York in 1913. This exhibition would introduce America to all the new trends that were happening in France: Cubisim, Futurism, Post Impressionism and the like. Art in America after the exhibit would never be the same.
I choose to write the quote here in full because I found it very rich, and funny:
As soon as the show opened to the public the following Monday, the Reception and Publicity Committee sprang into action, requiring Bellows and other to station themselves at a desk near the entrance, greeting visitors, escorting them, if need be, through the exhibition, and attempting to answer any and all questions, no matter how bizarre.
His friend Randall Davey later recalled that a very frequently asked question was “which way is the most expensive picture? The wide-awake young artists at the desk, said Davey, “Took turns taking these visitors to our own pictures and giving them a real fancy price.” Probably the most famous guest to take the guided tour was Theodore Roosevelt, who was escorted through the maze by Arthur B. Davies himself. The ex-president was heart to shout, “That’s not art!” whenever confronted with a work by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque or Constantin Brancusi. Finally they reached Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. Bellows had hung it in a conspicuous place near the exit, where the thickest crowds tended to gather. “Where’s the woman?” demanded TR. When Davies tried to respond, he was interrupted by another snort: “He is nuts, and his imagination has gone wild!”
(From “George Bellows” by Mary Sayre Haverstock, Merrell Publsihing, 2007)