The Société Anonyme and Modernism’s Early Roots

In 1920, the Anonymous Society—or Société Anonyme—was founded by Marcel Duchamp, Katherine Dreier, and Man Ray for the promotion of modern art in America. On the heels of the 1913 Armory Show and amongst changing attitudes toward art, the noncommercial organization (ironically, their title was French for “corporation”—unbeknownst to Man Ray when he first picked the name) held over 80 exhibitions to encourage the public’s education of modern art. 

This week, with a nod to the Société Anonyme, Mexico City-based independent curator and co-founder of PETRA, Montserrat Albores Gleason, has approached her latest project: the Modern section of Zona MACO. Looking to the practices and changing paradigms of the first half of 20th century, Gleason presents modernism as the foundation of contemporary art. Her selection is small, featuring artists from Mexico and Latin America, Europe and the United States—all born before 1945—but not restricted to artists from the avant-garde. 

“I think that events that occurred during the beginning of the 20th century, such as the readymade, have a strong influence not just in contemporary art production but also in curatorial display practices, and in the way we understand the institutions of art,” Gleason told Artsy. Viewing her section as a phantom of the Société Anonyme, Gleason co-organized a symposium to discuss the historic organization at large. At the fair, “Symposium for the art of future - a banquet in honor of the Société Anonyme” will feature a group of speakers—among them, George Baker, Lynne Cooke, Tom Eccles, Michael Govan, Richard Meyer, Francis Naumann, and Molly Nesbit—who Gleason says will “will map the changes in notions around collection making and exhibition display through the Société Anonyme, not just in historical terms but also as a set of possible new values in contemporary thought and practice.”

Symposium for the art of future - a banquet in honor of the Société Anonyme” will take place Saturday, February 8th, from 12:00H-17:00H, in the Conference Room at Banamex Center, Hall D. It will be moderated by Montserrat Albores Gleason and Josiah McElheny, and is sponsored by Colección Júmex.

Explore the Modern Section at Zona MACO on Artsy. 

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