From the Armory to academia: Careers and reputations of early modern artists in the United States


This research considers the process of consecration by tracking all 308 artists who exhibited at the 1913 Armory Show to see which are included in prominent art history textbooks nearly a century later. In particular, I examine how artist attributes (e.g., gender) and a legitimating organization (the Museum of Modern Art) shape this process. Regression results indicate that, among other things, the number and type of exhibitions that Armory artists garnered at MoMA from 1929 to 1967 dramatically raise the odds that they are featured in 21st century textbooks. Meanwhile, many artist attributes (e.g., gender) have no bearing on the odds of textbook inclusion. However, several artist attributes – particularly gender – matter in that they significantly predict which artists ever-exhibited at MoMA in the mid-1900s. Such findings suggest that certain types of contemporary valorization (MoMA exhibition) matter for later consecration – especially when a legitimating organization functions as a gatekeeper that grants exposure to certain types of artists while excluding others.