Hardly a “Chamber of Horrors”

Following the Armory Show’s debut in New York, from February 17th to March 15th, 1913, the controversial show traveled to Chicago, where a scaled down iteration took place at the Art Institute of Chicago between March 24th and April 16th, 1913. The show set off just as many ripples in the Chicago’s populace and press as in New York’s. The installation of the Cubist Room in particular, dubbed by the New York press as the “Chamber of Horrors,” was as outrageous to Chicagoians—even with a work by one of their own Cubist painters, Manierre Dawson, included in this reprise. In an article entitled “The Cubist Art” the Chicago Tribune wrote: “The nudes pervert the ideal of physical perfection, obliterate the line which has heretofore distinguished the artistic from the lewd and obscene, and incite feel errings of disgust and aversion.”

The "cubist" gallery of the International Exhibition of Modern Art (the Armory Show) at the Art Institute of Chicago, 1913. Photo courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.