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The Modern Art Invasion: Picasso, Duchamp, and the 1913 Armory Show that Scandalized America

The story of the most important art show in U.S. history. Held at Manhattan’s 69th Regiment Armory in 1913, the show brought modernism to America in an unprecedented display of 1300 works by artists including Picasso, Matisse, and Duchamp, A quarter of a million Americans visited the show; most couldn’t make sense of what they were seeing. Newspaper critics questioned the artists’ sanity. A popular rumor held that the real creator of one abstract canvas was a donkey with its tail dipped in paint.

The Armory Show went on to Boston and Chicago and its effects spread across the country. American artists embraced a new spirit of experimentation as conservative art institutions lost all influence. New modern art galleries opened to serve collectors interested in buying the most progressive works. Over time, the stage was set for American revolutionaries such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol. Today, when museums of modern and contemporary art dot the nation and New York reigns as art capital of the universe, we live in a world created by the Armory Show.

Reviews and Endorsements

A vivid, compelling portrait of the Armory Show and its lasting influence on American art.

Kirkus Reviews

It is not often that writings on art serve to pump up readers the way a locker room speech might, leaving them primed to charge back out into the world ready to topple the old and usher in the new. But so it goes with The Modern Art Invasion … Lunday has a strong narrative at her back here, and she wisely lets this rip-snorting tale have its head… – The Boston Globe

The Modern Art Invasion ultimately uses the famous 1913 exhibition as a lens through which to view art history going back more than a century. The author has fit into this trim volume a world of insight, interesting life stories and plenty of art history. It’s a fun read and essential to anyone interested in learning how American art of the 20th century came to be. – The Patriot Ledger

Elizabeth Lunday gives a lively and often humorous introduction to the world of modern art through the lives, ambitions and rivalries of the outsized personalities involved in the landmark Armory Show. She also offers a fascinating assessment of the legacies of the exhibition that caused such a seismic shift in American culture – one whose shocks, she shows, are still being felt and absorbed a century later. – Ross King, author of Leonardo and the Last Supper and Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling

A lusciously detailed, highly readable account of the dazzling visual explosion that confronted the American world at the first modern art exhibition in New York in 1913. Peopled by fascinating personalities like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin and the hostile critics who greeted their masterpieces as ‘sheer insanity.’ This powerfully told story reveals why art matters. — Anne-Marie O’Connor, author of The Lady in Gold, the Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer

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Secret Lives of Great Artists: What Your Teachers Never Told You about Master Painters and Sculptors

With outraeous anecdotes about everyone from Leonardo (alleged sodomist) to Caraviaggio (convicted murderer) to Edward Hopper (alleged wife beater), Secret Lives of Great Artists recounts the seamy, steamy, and gritty history behind the great masters of international art. You’ll learn that Michelangelo’s body odor was so bad, his assistants couldn’t stand working for him; that Vincent van Gogh sometimes ate paint directly from the tube; and Georgia O’Keeffe loved to paint in the nude.

Since its publication in 2008, Secret Lives of Great Artists has sold more than 40,000 copies and been translated into a dozen languages.

Reviews from Goodreads Members

Nicely illustrated and lighthearted glance at 19th and 20th century canon artists, with plenty of People magazine-esque anecdotes. My favorite had to be Jackson Pollock getting hammered during the installation of one of his paintings in Peggy Guggenheim’s house, and then urinating into her fireplace during the subsequent party. Oh, Jackson, you’re so classy. — Erin

I enjoy these books- I like the brush-ups on the authors best-known works and styles, and I really love the wacky stories and anecdotes about these often eccentric personalities. It is interesting to see what made these artists tick! — Elizabeth

Artists and art appreciators will find these stories of the lives of 35 well-known artists from the Renaissance to Pop Art terribly interesting. Some of the stories are hopeful and others devastating, but they are all compelling; and both the author and illustrator of the book strike the right humorous tone. — Emily

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Secret Lives of Great Composers: What Your Teachers Never Told You about the World’s Musical Masters

True tales of murder, riots, heartbreak, and great music. With outrageous anecdotes about everyone from Gioachino Rossini (draft-dodging womanizer) to Johann Sebastian Bach (jailbird) to Richard Wagner (alleged cross-dresser), <i>Secret Lives of Great Composers</i> recounts the seamy, steamy, and gritty history behind the great masters of international music. You’ll learn that Edward Elgar dabbled with explosives, that John Cage was obsessed with fungi, that Berlioz plotted murder, and that Giacomo Puccini stole his church’s organ pipes and sold them as scrap metal so he could buy cigarettes. This is one music history lesson you’ll never forget!

Secret Lives of Great Composers has been translated into seven languages.

Reviews from Goodreads Members

LOVE this book and wish I had it in undergrad as a companion to my music history courses! Very informative and entertaining, and makes the “old dead guys” come to life! — Musicdoodle

Wonderful handbook for classical music primer. Easy to read bio compilation. Anecdotes and music references give excellent must hear examples from each composer. Baseball card style capsule stats are also handy. — John

Lunday has penned quite the brisk and humorous read that highlights the quirks of some of the best classical composers. — Todd