On Saturday night, New York’s architecture community gathered in Manhattan’s historic 69th Regiment Armory to celebrate the Architectural League of New York on the centennial of the original 1913 Armory Show. The sold out party welcomed 1,350 design-minded revelers dressed as their favorite “–ism,” the theme of this year’s event, representing everything from surrealism, revivalism, Dadaism, classicism, and brutalism. In all, over $100,000 was raised for the League.
SITU Studio designed an installation to bring scale to the cavernous armory space, working with Renfro Design Group on an integrated lighting scheme. A series of white fabric prisms were suspended from the ceiling, serving to humanize the space while providing an armature for digital projections. Pulsing music built excitement throughout the night, which culminated in a procession of giant vellum marionettes, each controlled by a team of three performance artists, and a troupe of vellum-clad artists wandering through the armory, encouraging attendees to dance.
In 1913, the 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan hosted what was then considered the most shocking art exhibition the public had ever seen. The International Exhibition of Modern Art, which came to be called The Armory Show, introduced modern European art to an East Coast audience. A showcase of -ism art movements then in development and exploration by artists now considered masters of their craft, the event was transgressive; it induced backlash from several publications and from former President Theodore Roosevelt who commented that “the lunatic fringe was fully in evidence.”
Yet, even in his blatant dislike of the artworks displayed, President Roosevelt admitted the importance of the show’s existence, its revelation of the European “art forces that cannot be ignored.” This Saturday, September 28, in a centennial homage of the show that shocked the American world, the Architectural League of New York is hosting their annual Beaux Arts Ball in the same venue. Taking inspiration from a space originally meant for National Guard trainings and military activities, the ball will work with and within the great hall to transform its appearance, shockingly. (And tickets are on sale now!)