I found the article about the Armory Show very entertaining. It was written in a tone that made it an easy and interesting read - not something I normally find. I particularly enjoyed the snippets of criticisms of Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2) by Duchamp. The fact that people described the painting as "an orderly heap of broken violins," "an assortment of half-made saddles," "an academic painting of an artichoke," and "a pack of brown cards in a nightmare" is really entertaining to me. I also found all of the Gertrude Stein controversy funny, especially the poem and the criticism that ended up sounding like she had written it ("What takes their place is not a sensation at all but a memory, and a memory is not a sensation" vs "You are extraordinary within your limits, but your limits are extraordinarily there.")
I found the comparison to physical stimuli interesting. While one person claimed calling the art sensational was impossible and that they were simply memories, the defending person claimed that calling it "sensationalism" was wise as the art sought to provide a pictorial representation of physical feelings. However, the ugly aesthetic of the pieces still deterred her, like everyone else.
I also found the point at the end of the article interesting. It noted that about a century ago, the enraging factor of art was that it was not visually pleasing. However, today, the enraging factor of art are the political and social messages it carries. It also called the old battles "bloodless," implying that today's battles are not. I can see this being true, as nobody was really hurt by people calling modern art ugly (except maybe artist's paychecks, but they were getting tons of publicity) but people can seriously be hurt by people being upset at art with a message. People are assaulted and killed for identify as any sort of minority, whereas I doubt anyone was killed for saying "Oh, that weird art actually isn't too bad."
The radical new ideas discussed in the Armory Show article are then tossed around in "The Ism that Isn't." It mentions a point I've thought of much before but never could articulate into words. While this article went through the history of several isms to bring out the point, I believe it did it successfully. The radical modernist art revealed in the Armory Show was radical because it did not abide by "good art rules." The isms article says that the movement was dubbed "cubism" because it was a new idea, and therefore could be labelled an ism. However, because essentially every barrier of "what is art" was broken with modernism and postmodernism, any attempts to dub new isms like "neurotic realism" are just attempts to make history, and do not represent real changes in art history. I am glad this article exists because I have been asked to create a piece that is "debatable art" and was rather frustrated because I believe every barrier has already been broken. No matter how "out there" your art is, it will likely be accepted as art because of how open the community is now to modernist/postmodernist ideas. Overall, I enjoyed these two articles more than usual.
Kristin Hines - Student artist at Maggie L. Walker Governor's School