Society of independent artists
Founded in 1916 in New York City, membership was American and foreign artists who wanted a venue for exhibiting modernist artwork without restrictions of jury selection, style, or subject matter. It was a counter-gesture to the National Academy of Design and was modeled on the French Societ?? des Artistes Independants, a pre-World War I group that opened exhibitions to artists without controlling style or subject matter. A key figure was modernist Marcel Duchamp who came to New York in 1915 from France for his first extended stay. The first exhibition was March 6 to April 6, 1917 and was held at the Grand Central Palace in New York. With about 2500 paintings and 1200 artist participants, it was the largest art exhibition in American history. It was also one of the most controversial because it had no jury, and installation, which was alphabetical by artist name, appeared random and disorganized. Exhibitions continued on an annual basis, although none was as sensational as the first. By 1919, participation had dropped to about one third of the original group with many foreign artists dropping out in the face of increased American political isolationism. Among the most important artist-founders of the Society of Independent Artists in addition to Duchamp were Katherine Dreier, William J. Glackens, Albert Gleizes, John Marin, Walter Pach, Man Ray, John Sloan and Joseph Stella. The first managing director was Walter Arensberg, and John Sloan was President from 1918 to 1944. However, Duchamp and Arensberg dropped out after the first exhibition because Duchamp was denied entry for his ???Fountain by R.Mutt???, the urinal piece that many found so shocking. Source: ???Phaidon Dictionary of Twentieth Century Art???; Clark Marlor, ???The Society of Independent Artists Exhibition Record 1917-1944.