An interview of Katharine Kuh conducted 1982 Mar. 18-1983 Mar. 24, by Avis Berman, for the Archives of American Art's Mark Rothko and His Times oral history project.
Kuh speaks of her invalid childhood in Chicago, the development of her interest in art, classes in art history at Vassar College, and her career as curator of modern art at the Art Institute of Chicago. She recalls in particular the "Sanity in Art" movement against modern art in Chicago. Kuh describes her relationship with Mark Rothko and Rothko's relationships with Mark Tobey, Clyfford Still, Kate Rothko, Theodoros Stamos, Milton Avery, Stanley Kunitz, and Hans Hofmann.
Kuh discusses her parents, the family silk business, travelling in Europe as a child, life in Chicago, the effects of polio and other illnesses on her interests, and her student years at Vassar College. She remembers visiting Bernard Berenson in Italy with her family and again with Daniel Catton Rich, with whom she worked very closely at the Art Institute of Chicago. She speaks of the Katharine Kuh Gallery, which she started in the mid-1930s and its place in the vanguard of the Chicago art scene.
Kuh remembers the effects of the stock market crash on her personal situation, her marriage to businessman George Kuh, distaste for life in the suburbs, and her divorce. She discusses the Katharine Kuh Gallery and the actions taken against her business by members of the reactionary "Sanity in Art" movement (including a very funny anecdote concerning Carlos Merida). She speaks of the classes in modern art that she taught at her gallery and of some of the artists she exhibited there, including the photographers Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, and Edward Weston.
Kuh remembers the McCarthy era and the political conservatism in Chicago, including her testimony on behalf of Bill Zimmerman, Acting Commissioner of Indian Affairs. She criticizes blockbuster exhibitions and the changes in the role of a museum curator. She reminisces about building the collection at the Art Institute of Chicago and the art education program she ran there, and recalls Stuart Davis, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Gyorgy Kepes, and Ivan Albright.
Kuh remembers Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Marcel Duchamp, as well as the collectors Walter Paepcke and Walter and Louise Arensberg (whose collection she surveyed in their home for an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago).
Kuh focuses on her memories of Mark Rothko, recalling when they met, their friendship, his manner of working, his feelings about his work, and his worries towards the end of his life. She talks about Clyfford Still, Barnett Newman, and Mark Tobey. Some parts of this tape repeat what she said earlier.
Kuh continues discussing Rothko, particularly his Houston chapel murals and the retrospective exhibition at MOMA in 1961. She remembers visiting Rothko's studio and describes his working methods. She relates Rothko's views on other artists, including Milton Avery, Clyfford Still, Turner, Robert Motherwell, and Adolf Gottlieb; parts repeat things said before. Kuh also discusses Rothko's wife and daughter.
Kuh recounts building the collection at the Art Institute of Chicago and speaks of the museum staff, trustees, and donors. She remembers Alfred Barr at MOMA.
Kuh continues speaking about the Art Institute of Chicago, describing the circumstances of her resignation and subsequent move to New York. She talks of knowing Peggy Guggenheim, Max Ernst, and Fernand Leger.
Kuh describes her work as a consultant to college museums and her writings. She discusses the field of art criticism and her career as art editor at Saturday Review. She recalls Clyfford Still's retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and his death.
Kuh describes her work as a collector for the First National Bank of Chicago.
Kuh recounts more about her work at Saturday Review and her resignation. She goes into great detail about her travels in Alaska and British Columbia surveying Northwest Indian art for a government report. She speaks again about the McCarthy era.
Kuh speaks again about the Katharine Kuh Gallery and the artists she exhibited there, including Josef Albers (and his Black Mountain College), Alexander Archipenko, Stuart Davis, Paul Klee, Alexander Calder, and Man Ray.
Kuh continues her discussion of artists she exhibited at the Katharine Kuh Gallery, including Mark Tobey, Paul Klee, and Isamu Noguchi.
Kuh continues talking about artists she exhibited at the Katharine Kuh Gallery, including David Smith, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Eliot Porter, Rufino Tamayo, and Jack Tworkov.
Biographical / Historical:
Katharine Kuh (1904-1994) was an art consultant, curator, and critic from Chicago and New York City.
Originally recorded on 16 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 31 digital wav files. Duration is 21 hrs., 52 min.
This interview was conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's Mark Rothko and his Times oral history project, with funding provided by the Mark Rothko Foundation.
Others interviewed on the project (by various interviewers) include: Sonia Allen, Sally Avery, Ben-Zion, Bernard Braddon, Ernest Briggs, Rhys Caparn, Elaine de Kooning, Herbert Ferber, Esther Gottlieb, Juliette Hays, Sidney Janis, Buffie Johnson, Jacob Kainen, Louis Kaufman, Jack Kufeld, Stanley Kunitz, Joseph Liss, Dorothy Miller, Betty Parsons, Wallace Putnam, Rebecca Reis, Maurice Roth, Sidney Schectman, Aaron Siskind, Joseph Solman, Hedda Sterne, Jack Tworkov, Esteban Vicente and Ed Weinstein. Each has been cataloged separately.
Transcript: Patrons must use microfilm copy.
Authorization to quote or reproduce for the purposes of publication requires written permission from Avis Berman. Contact Reference Services for more information.
This microfilm collection of the papers of African American artist and museum curator Charles C. Dawson dates from 1910 to 1980. It includes biographical material; a 536 page draft of an autobiography; and correspondence. Correspondence includes United States Infantry correspondence and records, 1912-1923; general correspondence, 1917-1980; correspondence and financial records dealing with Dawson's book ABCs of Great Negroes, 1932-1945; and drafts and fragments of letters written by Dawson. Also included in the collection are miscellaneous business and financial records; writings and notes, including rough drafts, notes, and typescripts; printed material inclduing news releases, newsletters, program notices, newspaper clippings, and miscellaneous published items; and photographs of Dawson, his family, friends, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Charles C. Dawson (1889-1981) was an African American painter, printmaker, and illustrator in Chicago, Illinois. He studied at the Tuskegee Institute, the Art Students League of New York, and at the Art Institute of Chicago and chronicled experiences as an art student in his unpublished autobiography. From 1919 to 1922 he worked for Chicago Engravers before leaving the firm to work as a freelance artist. Dawson also curated museum exhibitions to promote the work of other African American artists. He worked as the curator of the Museum of Negro Art and Culture and the George Washington Carver Museum from 1944 to 1951. In 1933 Dawson published a children's book, ABCs of Great Negroes which featured linoleum prints of 26 major figures in Black history.
Lent for microfilming by the DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago, Illinois, 1988.
The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.
The papers of painter, political activist, and educator Leon Golub are dated 1930s-2009 and measure 16.5 linear feet and 4.13 GB. His career as a painter and educator – and, to a far lesser extent, his personal interests and activities – are documented by correspondence, interviews, writings by Golub and other authors, subject files, printed and digital material, and audiovisual recordings. Also included are biographical materials, personal business records, and photographs of Leon Golub and wife Nancy Spero. Posthumously dated items are mostly condolence letters, obituaries, printed material, and inventories of his work.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of painter, political activist, and educator Leon Golub are dated 1930s-2009 and measure 16.5 linear feet and 4.13 GB. His career as a painter and educator – and, to a far lesser extent, his personal interests and activities – are documented by correspondence, interviews, writings, subject files, printed and digital material, and audiovisual recordings. Also included are biographical materials, personal business records, and photographs of Leon Golub and his art work. Posthumously dated items are mostly condolence letters, obituaries, printed material, and inventories of his work.
Biographical materials consist largely of video documentaries about Leon Golub and his work, obituaries, and information about his 2004 memorial service and a larger memorial tribute held later. Also found are educational records, passports, curricula vitae.
Correspondence is mostly of a professional nature, focusing on exhibitions, projects, collectors, articles submitted for publication, Golub's work, speaking engagements, awards, gifts of artwork, studio visits, and travel arrangements. Correspondents include dealers, curators, art historians, critics, collectors, writers, and editors. Scattered throughout are a small number of letters concerning personal business and politics.
Interviews with Leon Golub and joint interviews with Leon Golub and Nancy Spero were conducted for a variety of purposes. They are preserved as transcripts, video, and sound recordings. Writings by Golub include manuscripts and notes for articles, catalog essays, and miscellaneous writings. Notes and texts for talks, lectures, and panel discussions, include some transcripts and recordings. Among the writings by other authors are a dissertation, a thesis, academic papers, notes, texts of speeches, and a recording of a lecture by an unidentified speaker.
Subject files reflect Golub's professional and personal activities, interests and relationships. Of note are many files of "Images (source material)" used for a variety of artwork and projects. Personal business records documenting Golub's artistic output include many inventories and lists, and a comprehensive register of work, information about consignments, loans, photo permissions, and gifts or donations. Also found are extensive mailing lists.
Printed material includes clippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements, and a variety of miscellaneous printed items. Most material is about/mentions Golub, and/or includes reproductions of his work. Scattered throughout are items concerning topics of interest to Golub, and articles written by him.
The majority of the photographic materials are color digital prints of Golub's artwork. There are photographs of Leon Golub and Nancy Spero, family members, and friends and colleagues at exhibition events. Also found are a few photographs of Golub's plexibox sculptures.
The collection is arranged in 8 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1930s-2006 (Boxes 1-2; 1.4 linear feet, ER01-ER02; 3.82 GB)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1955-2004 (Boxes 2-3; 0.9 linear foot)
Series 3: Interviews, 1967-2004 (Boxes 3-4; 0.8 linear foot)
Series 4: Writings, 1948-2003 (Boxes 4-5, 21; 1.1 linear foot, ER03; 0.098 GB)
Series 5: Subject Files, 1959-2005 (Boxes 5-11, OV 18; 6.2 linear feet, ER04-ER06, 0.213 GB)
Series 6: Personal Business Records, 1965-2009 (Boxes 11-12; 1.4 linear feet)
Series 7: Printed Material, circa 1950s-2009 (Boxes 12-16, 21, OV 19; 3.9 linear feet)
Series 8: Photographs, 1940s-2004 (Boxes 16-17, OV 20; 0.6 linear foot)
Biographical / Historical:
Leon Golub (1922-2004) was a painter in New York City known for figurative work with political content, an anti-war activist, and professor of art at Rutgers University.
Chicago native Leon Golub studied art history at the University of Chicago (BA 1942) before serving as a cartographer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Europe during World War II. Upon returning home, Golub became identified with Monster Roster, a group of Chicago artists who believed art must be grounded in real events in order to be relevant to the viewer and society, an idea he held throughout his life. At the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Golub pursued his interest in painting (BFA 1949, MFA 1950) and met fellow student Nancy Spero whom he married in 1951. After graduation he began teaching at local colleges, exhibited in Chicago and New York, and served as chair of "Exhibition Momentum" (1950). The couple and their two sons lived in Italy from 1956-1957. In 1959 they moved to Paris and, while there, a third son was born. Upon returning to New York City in 1964, Golub became actively involved with the Artists and Writers Protest Against the War in Vietnam, other anti-war groups, and civil liberties organizations. While his painting style changed with time, Golub continued to explore power, violence and conflict, often working in series with titles such as Combats, Napalm, Mercenaries, Interrogation, and Riot.
He first participated in a group show with other veterans at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1947, and soon was included in group and solo exhibitions throughout the United States and in Europe, including the Guggenheim Museum's influential national traveling exhibition "Younger American Painters" (1954-1956). Golub and Spero exhibited their work in tandem and collaborated on installations. He continued to participate in group shows including "Documenta IX" (2002). Golub's work is included in the permanent collections of museums throughout the world.
Golub began his teaching career soon after graduation, first at a junior college in Chicago. In the later 1950s he served briefly on the faculties of Illinois Institute of Technology School of Design and Indiana University; in the 1960s at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, and Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. He began a long tenure at Rutgers University, School of Visual Arts in 1970 and retired in 1991. In the early 1990s, both Golub and Spero were affiliated with Sommerakademie in Salzburg. Golub wrote and spoke on art, politics, and social issues; he also published many articles, statements, and book reviews, as well as contributing introductions and essays for exhibition catalogs.
Awards and honors included the Skowhegan Medal for Painting (1988), Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Award (1989), Dickinson College Arts Award (1992), National Foundation of Jewish Culture Visual Arts Award (1995), and Hiroshima Art Prize shared with Nancy Spero (1996). Golub was awarded honorary doctorates of Fine Arts by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1982), Swarthmore College (1985), College of St. Rose (1995), Trinity College (1999), and Pratt Institute (2000). He was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2002).
Leon Golub died in New York City August 8, 2004 from complications following surgery.
Also among the holdings of the Archives of American Art are oral history interviews with Leon Golub conducted for the Archives of American Art by Bruce Hooten 1965 and Irving Sandler 1968 October 28-November 18. The Nancy Spero papers, 1940s-2009, bulk 1970-2009, include documentation of many of the couple's collaborative projects, joint exhibitions, their family, and shared interests.
The Leon Golub papers were donated by Leon Golub in 1978; the majority of the papers were given in 2013 by The Nancy Spero and Leon Golub Foundation for the Arts via their sons Stephen, Philip and Paul Golub. Material loaned for microfilming in 1969 is included with the 2013 donation.
Use of original materials requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
One bound 86 p. transcript of an interview with Katharine Kuh conducted Jan. 26-27, 1993 by John W. Smith for the Art Institute of Chicago.
Biographical / Historical:
Katharine Kuh (1904-1994) was a curator with the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.
Katharine Kuh papers also located at the Archives of American Art.
Donated in 2009 by John W. Smith, Director of the Archives of American Art. Interview was conducted when Smith was the Archivist for the Art Institute of Chicago.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
The Art Institute of Chicago retains copyright.
An interview with Suellen Rocca conducted 2015 November 5-6, by Lanny Silverman, for the Archives of American Art's Chicago Art and Artists: Oral History Project, at Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois.
Biographical / Historical:
Suellen Rocca (1943-2020) was an artist, curator, and educator in Romeoville, Illinois. Interviewee Lanny Silverman (1947- ) is a curator at the Chicago Cultural Center in Chicago, Illinois.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Personal and professional correspondence; writings; personal business records; photographs of Aubin, her works of art and family; scrapbooks; two VHS videos and printed material relating to painter, teacher, and curator Barbara Aubin.
Also included is a miniature portrait of a man "Joshua" (presumably a relative of Aubin's) painted on ivory in a medallion, possibly dated 1867.
Biographical / Historical:
Barbara Aubin (1928-2014) was a painter, teacher, and curator in Chicago, Illinois.
Donated 2016 by the Barbara Aubin estate via Amie Hyman, executor.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.