Correspondence in this series is primarily between Walt Kuhn and his professional and personal contacts and spans his entire career. Correspondents include family members, fellow artists, students, dealers, museum and gallery staff, collectors, friends, fans, critics and colleagues. Copies of outgoing correspondence are often present and are interfiled chronologically. Also included is scattered correspondence of Vera and Brenda Kuhn, and correspondence written after Kuhn died that documents his family's efforts to exhibit, sell, and donate his work.
The content of the correspondence ranges from personal and candid to purely transactional. Artists, collectors, dealers, and critics involved in the creation of significant works of art and collections in the early 20th century are represented. An alphabetical index of selected correspondents in this series is provided in the appendix. Another resource for accessing correspondence are the card files in Series 4.8: Notes and Writings, where correspondence with various contacts was indexed by the Kuhns and filed alphabetically by name.
In 1938, Walt and Vera Kuhn wrote and self-published the pamphlet, "The Story of the Armory Show" and sent it gratis to hundreds of interested parties. Among the correspondence from that year are many heartfelt reponses from fellow artists and other witnesses to the 1913 event, including Charles Sheeler, William Glackens, Stuart Davis, André Derain, Henri Roché, Walter Pach, and J.H. du Bois to name just a few.
Kuhn regularly instructed students through the mail with lengthy letters about painting techniques and methods. San Francisco painter Otis Oldfield is represented by over 100 lengthy letters in this subseries. Kuhn's letters to Oldfield, returned at Kuhn's request in 1945 for a publication project that was never realized, are interfiled. Other correspondence students include Patsy Santo, Frank di Gioia, Watson Bidwell, John Bernhardt, John Laurent, Goldie Paley, and Eric Lundgren. See the appendix for dates.
Types of material include letters (sometimes illustrated), postcards, invitations, announcements, and Christmas cards, which are sometimes made of original artwork. Enclosures are often found, such as photographs, clippings, tracings of art work, writings, receipts, passes and membership cards. Some letters indicate enclosures that were previously separated and can be found in other series.
Significant writings enclosed with correspondence include an early vaudeville script written by Kuhn and his friend, Archibald Macnab (1923); drafts of articles about Kuhn by the poet Genevieve Taggard (1931), critic Alan Burroughs (1930), and patron Eloise Spaeth (1950); and an unpublished history of the 1913 Armory Show by Paul Bird (1938). Photographs and photographic postcards are also found throughout the series. Included are photo postcards from Spain and France (1925), and from Arizona and California (1928); and photographs related to Kuhn's work for the Union Pacific Railroad Company (1936, 1938).
Additional correspondence can be found throughout the collection. See individual series descriptions for details.
See Appendix for a list of selected correspondents in Series 4.3.
Appendix: Selected Correspondents in Series 4.3:
The following is a selective list of correspondents represented in Series 4.3: General Correspondence, with cross-references to correspondence in 4.4: Selected Gallery and Exhibition Files and 4.5: Provenance Files. It is not comprehensive. An effort has been made to index regionally and nationally known artists, Kuhn's patrons and students, models, art historians, writers, museum and gallery staff, dealers, and persons known to be well-represented in other collections at the Archives of American Art. Cross-references to existing letters in other parts of the Kuhn papers and Armory Show records are included selectively. Correspondents who have not been indexed include family members, neighbors, business contacts from his theater and vaudeville work of the early 1920s, and from his railroad car design work from 1936 to 1948.
Whitney, Harry: 1942 (see also Greason and Selected Gallery and Exhibition Files)
Whitney Studio Galleries (see also Force): 1929
Whitney Museum of American Art (see Force, Free, More, Freeman, Sharkey, Goodrich)
Wilder, Mitchell A. (Colorado Springs): 1946-1953 (75 letters; see also Selected Gallery and Exhibition Files)
Wilenski, R.H.: 1938, 1939, 1945-1946 (8 letters)
Williams, Adele (Women's club of Richmond): 1930
Williamson, Ada (Philadelphia Art Alliance): 1927, 1928, 1945, 1949 (19 letters; see also Selected Gallery and Exhibition Files)
Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts (see Bissell)
Wilson, Henry J.: 1950
Winser, Beatrice: 1935, 1940 (7 letters)
Woelfle, Arthur M.: 1914 (see also Selected Gallery and Exhibition Files)
Woelfle, Georgiana: 1936, 1937, 1963 (3 letters)
Wood, Stanley: 1928
Zayas, Marius de: 1934, 1939, 1947, 1948 (10 letters)
Zügel, Heinrich von: 1904
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Researchers interested in accessing audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies. Contact References Services for more information.
Walt Kuhn Family papers and Armory Show records, 1859-1984. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Getty Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Letters from Walt and Vera Kuhn including two with illustrations; letters between Walt Kuhn and Duncan Phillips, and a letter to Kuhn from Thomas Hart Benton; a photograph of a painting by Kuhn and a photograph of a painting by Wyndham Lewis; clippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements concerning Kuhn and various exhibitions at the Marie Harriman Gallery, New York, N.Y.
Biographical / Historical:
Deceased. Spier was the brother of Vera Kuhn, wife of the painter Walt Kuhn.
Virginia Mecklenburg of the National Museum of American Art received these papers from Spier, and then gave them to the Archives of American Art.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.