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Walter Pach – An Unusual Understanding of his Subject

"Walter Pach (1883 – 1958) The Armory Show and the Untold Story of Modern Art in America"

"Walter Pach (1883 – 1958) The Armory Show and the Untold Story of Modern Art in America"

This is the 1st  full length monograph about Walter Pach, a very important person in the development and promotion of modern art in America.  Most of those interested in art know of the “Armory Show”, the 1913 exhibit in an armory in New York City, actually entitled “International Exhibition of Modern Art”.  Many do not know that the importance of the show was the international aspect and that the only way this happened at all was because of Walter Pach.

Pach began his formation in the art world accompanying his father who was a professional photographer whose main contract was with the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Young Pack got to wander the empty galleries off hours and hone his eye for art. (He never supported the modern idea of photography as an art form, stemming from this early background.)

Pach was an American artist, who had been living in Paris on and off during the 1st decade of the 20th century.  He was employed by William Merritt Chase to coordinate the Chase Class in Europe for several years and his knowledge of Spanish, French and Italian along with his organizational skills, made these summer programs very successful.  He also took advantage of the training offered by Chase and also by Robert Henri both abroad and in New York City at the New York School of Art.

When the time came to put together an exhibit of modern art, the person who knew all the artists, or their dealers, and who did not have the language barrier of the other show organizers, Walter Pach was the only choice to help bring the newest art to America.  He was exceedingly good at this and accompanied the show to both New York City and subsequently Chicago and Boston.  Pach was also friends with American Moderns such as John Sloan, Robert Henri, Arthur B. Davies and Walter Kuhn.  Pach also became instrumental in acting as a dealer for early collectors of modern art such as NYC lawyer John Quinn and Walter Arensberg.

Later in his life, Walter Pach became a noted author and lecturer on modern art and related topics.  The Print Club of Rochester brought him to speak at the Memorial Art Gallery on April 20th 1938, on “The Painter Gravers” illustrated with lantern slides.  His knowledge of many artist’ work and his own personal experience as a painter and etcher, gave him an “unusual understanding of his subject” as the invitation points out.

A good read, using material from archival sources, with many illustrations, this book should be of interest to those who wonder how the European artists got their start in America.

Review submitted by
Susan Nurse

Walter Pach (1883 – 1958)
The Armory Show and the Untold Story of Modern Art in America

By Laurette E. McCarthy, Pennsylvania State University Press,  2011.
MAGStack N7483.P25M38 2011

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