Lot 203: LYALL, MARY MILLS; and EARL HARVEY LYALL. The Cubies'' ABC.

Swann Auction Galleries

December 1, 2016, 1:30 PM EST
New York, NY, US
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Description: LYALL, MARY MILLS; and EARL HARVEY LYALL. The Cubies'' ABC. 7 line drawings and 29 color plates including title-page, dedication, and end-page, with color borders, all by Earl Harvey Lyall to accompany rhyming verse on facing page by Mary Mills Lyall, with color initial letters. Oblong 8vo, 151x200 mm; 6x7 7/8 inches, original peach pebble cloth with pictorial cover onlay, light finger soiling and mild but uneven fading along spine into rear cover. Printed by the Knickerbocker Press, New York. New York and London: G. B. Putnam''s Sons, 1913
Notes: the scarce first edition of the illustrated abc book that criticized the armory show of 1913. A charming, if biting, contemporaneous attack on modern art and Cubism, in particular, in reaction to the famous International Exhibition of Modern Art, known as the Armory Show, at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York, directly across the street from Swann Galleries. It was organized by The Association of American Painters and Sculptors and exposed Americans to modern art for the first time; the dedication is by the Cubies to the Association "To Which They Owe Their Incubation."

The Cubies, three triangular-shaped creatures with a fair amount of contempt for objectivity, are shown throughout celebrating abstraction and mocking the art of the ancients. As letter A tells: "Archipenko''s their guide, Anatomics their bane; They''re the joy of the mad, the despair of the sane . . . A is for Art in the Cubies'' domain." Another illustration, for the letter U, which shows them bashing an Aztec sculpture explains: "U''s for the Union so Utterly Useless / Uniting the members that make up the whole / Against it the Cubies wage war that is truceless: `Such rage for convention'' they cry `is excuseless! - Away with cohesion, and set free the Soul!" The book was sold for a dollar a copy in a unknown print run and copies are scarce; only a few institutional copies are recorded and it appears on the auction and retail market very rarely.
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