Walt Kuhn, Kuhn family papers, and Armory Show records, 1859-1984, bulk 1900-1949
Kuhn, Walt, 1877-1949
Davies, Arthur B. (Arthur Bowen)
Association of American Painters and Sculptors (New York, N.Y.)
Kit Kat Club (New York, N.Y.)
Marie Harriman Gallery
Penguin Club (New York, N.Y.)
Armory Show (1913 : New York, N.Y.)
Place of publication, production, or execution:
32.2 linear feet
Access Note / Rights:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.
The Walt Kuhn Family papers and Armory Show records measure 32.2 linear feet and date from 1859 to 1984, with the bulk of material dating from 1900 to 1949. Papers contain records of the legendary Armory Show of 1913, also known as the International Exhibition of Modern Art, which introduced modern European painting and sculpture to the American public. Papers also contain records of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors (AAPS), the artist-run organization that mounted the Armory Show; records of the New York artists' clubs the Kit Kat Club (founded 1881) and the Penguin Club (founded 1917); and the personal and family papers of New York artist Walt Kuhn (1877-1949), one of the primary organizers of the Armory Show. An unprocessed addition of 2.1 linear feet with material dating from 1894-1984 is comprised of personal and professional correspondence, assorted printed material, photographic material of Kuhn and his artwork, and several artifacts including a make-up box, clown cloak, and three copper printing plates of Kuhn's paintings.
As Secretary for the AAPS, Kuhn retained the bulk of existing records of that organization and of the Armory Show. Minutes and correspondence make up most of the AAPS records (Series 2), as well as documents related to John Quinn's legal brief against a tariff on imported works of living artists. Armory Show Records (Series 1) include personal letters, voluminous business correspondence, a record book, miscellaneous notes, inventories and shipping records, two large scrapbooks, printed materials, photographs by Percy Rainford, and retrospective accounts of the show. Correspondents include Arthur B. Davies, Walter Pach, Vera Kuhn, Edward Weston, Otis Oldfield, and Charles Sheeler. The printed materials and photographs in Kit Kat Club and Penguin Club Records reflect Kuhn's deep involvement in those clubs.
The Walt Kuhn Family Papers (Series 4) contain records of his artwork, career, travels, personal and professional associations, family members, and work in vaudeville, film, and interior design. Notable among the family papers are illustrated letters and other cartoons; sketches, drawings, watercolors, and prints; candid letters from Walt to Vera Kuhn discussing art scene politics and personalities in New York, Paris, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Florida, and the Midwest; general correspondence with artists, dealers, collectors, journalists, writers, models, and fans; notes in index card files containing biographical anecdotes of the Kuhns' many contacts; provenance files that document the origin and fate of Kuhn's paintings, sculptures, and prints; papers relating to Kuhn's exhibitions and his relationships with the Marie Harriman Gallery and Durand-Ruel Gallery; and photographs and drawings depicting Kuhn's early years in Munich, Germany and Fort Lee, New Jersey; trips to Nova Scotia, New England, the Western United States, and Europe; New York and summer studios, among other subjects.
An addition of 2.1 linear feet donated 2015 includes correspondence between Kuhn and others; photographs of Kuhn, his works of art and exhibition installations; printed material; and artifacts including a metal box containing make-up and colored pieces made of hair, the clown cloak pictured in Kuhn's painting "Sandy" and 3 copper printing plates of Kuhn's paintings.
Walt Kuhn, Kuhn family papers, and Armory Show records, 1859-1984, bulk 1900-1949. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The bulk of the collection was digitized in 2006 and 2009 and is available online via the Archives of American Art's website. The addition has not been digitized. Materials that generally have not been scanned include medical records and records of routine financial transactions, duplicate originals and copies, negatives, slides, and large groups of news clippings. For many publications, such as books, catalogs, and pamphlets, only the cover and title pages have been scanned; complete publications are available by appointment.
Funding for the processing and digitization of the Walt Kuhn, Kuhn family papers, and Armory Show records was provided by the Terra Foundation of American Art.
The Archives of American Art holds the papers of Walter Pach, the European representative of the Armory Show.
Walt Kuhn (1877-1949) was a watercolorist, lithographer, and etcher from New York, New York. Kuhn was a central figure in the organization of the Armory Show, and artistic consultant to the Union Pacific Railroad.
The Walt Kuhn Family papers and Armory Show records were loaned for microfilming and later donated to the Archives of American Art by Walt Kuhn's daughter Brenda Kuhn in several installments between 1962 and 1979. An additional accession of letters, photographs, and an artifact was purchased by the Archives in 2000. All accessions were merged and reprocessed in 2005; and substantial portions of the collection were digitized in 2006. Additional material donated 2015 by Terry DeLapp, Kuhn's dealer.
This site provides access to the bulk of the Walt Kuhn, Walt Kuhn family papers and Armory Show records . These were digitized in 2006, and total 31,198 images.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001