Armory Show Trove to Smithsonian


New York art dealer Francis Naumann has donated a trove of papers related to the 1913 Armory Show, worth over $200,000, to the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art.

Naumann was in Athens last summer in search of paintings by American artist Walter Pach that were in the care of the artist’s Greek widow, Nikifora Iliopoulos. Pach (1883-1958) was a co-organizer of the Armory Show, which brought moderns such as Marcel Duchamp to the attention of American audiences.

Instead, amid a 115-degree heat wave, Naumann stumbled upon a closet full of Pach’s papers, including a long-lost sales ledger he kept during the Armory Show, noting every art purchase, and bought them from the widow’s nephew. “Pach’s widow had already sold papers to the Archives in 1988, and I assumed all the important papers were already there,” Nauman told Art in America. “But apparently these were not part of the 1988 sale.”

The spread reproduced here indicates, for example, the sale on Mar. 8 of a Kandinsky “Improvisation” to Alfred Stieglitz for $500 (over $11,000 in today’s dollars).

“I felt like I was doing the right thing by donating them since the Smithsonian already had 99 percent of the papers,” Nauman added, “and this stuff was the best, the cream of the crop.”