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Andrew Dasburg and Grace Mott Johnson papers

Creator:
Dasburg, Andrew, 1887-1979  Search this
Names:
Carlson, John F., 1874-1945  Search this
Cramer, Florence Ballin, 1884-1962  Search this
Davidson, Florence Lucius, d. 1962  Search this
Davidson, Jo, 1883-1952  Search this
Frankl, Walter  Search this
Hartley, Marsden, 1877-1943  Search this
Howard, Lila  Search this
Johnson, Grace Mott, 1882-1967  Search this
Kuhn, Vera, d. 1961  Search this
Lockwood, Ward  Search this
Luhan, Mabel Dodge, 1879-1962  Search this
McFee, Henry Lee, 1886-1953  Search this
Riley, Mary G., 1883-1939  Search this
Simonson, Lee, 1888-  Search this
Sterling, Lindsey, 1876-1931  Search this
Wright, Alice Morgan, 1881-1975  Search this
Extent:
8.8 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Poetry
Diaries
Sketchbooks
Photographs
Date:
1833-1980
bulk 1900-1980
Summary:
The papers of painter Andrew Dasburg and his wife and sculptor Grace Mott Johnson date from 1833 to 1980 (bulk 1900 to 1980), and measure 8.8 linear feet. The collection documents each artist's career and personal lives, including their brief marriage and their friendships with many notable artists in the New Mexico and New York art colonies during the early twentieth century. The papers of Dasburg (6 linear feet) and Johnson (2.8 linear feet) include biographical materials; extensive correspondence with family, friends, and fellow artists, such as John F. Carlson, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Marsden Hartley, Henry Lee McFee, and Ward Lockwood; writings by Dasburg, Johnson, and others; scattered legal, financial, and business records; clippings; exhibition materials; numerous photographs of Johnson and Dasburg, friends, family, and artwork; and original artwork, including two sketchbooks by Johnson.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of painter Andrew Dasburg and sculptor Grace Mott Johnson date from 1833 to 1980, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1900 to 1980, and measure 8.8 linear feet. The collection is divided into the papers of Andrew Dasburg (6 linear feet) and the papers of Grace Mott Johnson (2.8 linear feet), and documents each artist's career and personal lives, including their brief marriage, and friendships with many notable artists in New Mexico and New York art colonies during the early twentieth century. Found are scattered biographical, legal, and financial materials. Extensive correspondence (particularly in Dasburg's papers) is with family, friends, and fellow artists, such as John F. Carlson, Florence Ballin Cramer, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Marsden Hartley, Henry Lee McFee, Vera Spier Kuhn, and Ward Lockwood. Dasburg's papers also include letters to Johnson and his two later wives.

Johnson's correspondence is also with numerous artist friends and others, including John F. and Margaret Carlson, Florence Ballin Cramer, Jo Davidson, Florence Lucius, Walter Frankl, Lila Wheelock Howard, Henry Lee McFee, Mary Riley, Lee Simonson, Lindsey Morris Sterling, Alice Morgan Wright, Mabel Dodge Luhan, and Vera Spier Kuhn. Letters to her son Alfred are quite detailed and revealing. Writings are by Dasburg, Johnson, and others. Johnson's writings include a very brief diary and her poetry. Writings by others are about the Taos and New Mexico art communities. Printed materials about both artists include clippings and exhibition catalogs. There are numerous photographs of Dasburg and Johnson, individually and together, and with friends and family. Of note are a group photograph of Birge Harrison's art class in Woodstock, New York, which includes Johnson and Dasburg, and a photograph of Dasburg with friends Konrad Cramer and John Reed. Dasburg's papers also include snapshots of Florence Lucius, Konrad and Florence Ballin Cramer, Frieda and D. H. Lawrence, and Mabel Dodge Luhan. Original artwork by the two artists include two sketchbooks by Johnson and three prints and two drawings by Dasburg.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into 2 series of each artist's papers:

Series 1: Andrew Dasburg Papers, circa 1900-1980 (Box 1-7; 6.0 linear feet)

Series 2: Grace Mott Johnson Papers, 1833-1963 (Box 7-10; 2.8 linear feet)
Biographical Note:
Andrew Michael Dasburg (1887-1979) was born in Paris, France, to German parents. After his father died and when he was five, Dasburg and his mother moved to New York City. In 1902 Dasburg started attending classes at the Art Students' League and studied with Kenyon Cox and Frank Du Mond. He also took night classes with Robert Henri. In 1907 he received a scholarship to the Art Students' League summer school in Woodstock, New York and spent three summers studying there in Birge Harrison's painting class. While in school he became friends with many young artists, including Morgan Russell and his future wife, Grace Mott Johnson.

Grace Mott Johnson (1882-1967) was born in New York City. She began drawing when she was four years old, and when the family moved to a farm in 1900 she enjoyed sketching horses and other farm animals. At the age of 22 she left home to study at the Art Students' League with sculptors Gutzon Borglum and James Earle Fraser, and also attended Birge Harrison's painting class in Woodstock. Throughout her career she would sculpt animals from memory, and would often attend circuses and farms for inspiration.

In 1909 Johnson and Dasburg went to Paris and joined the modernist circle of artists living there, including Morgan Russell, Jo Davidson, and Arthur Lee. During a trip to London that same year they were married. Johnson returned to the United States early the next year, but Dasburg stayed in Paris where he met Henri Matisse, Gertrude and Leo Stein, and became influenced by the paintings of Cezanne and Cubism. He returned to Woodstock, New York in August and he and Johnson became active members of the artist community. In 1911 their son Alfred was born. Both Dasburg and Johnson showed several works at the legendary Armory Show in 1913, and Dasburg also showed at the MacDowell Club in New York City, where he met the journalist and activist John Reed who later introduced him to Mabel Dodge (Luhan), a wealthy art patron and lifelong friend. In 1914 Dasburg met Alfred Stieglitz and became part of his avant-garde circle. Using what he had seen in Paris, Dasburg became one of the earliest American cubist artists, and also experimented with abstraction in his paintings.

Dasburg and Johnson lived apart for most of their marriage. By 1917 they had separated and Dasburg began teaching painting in Woodstock and in New York City. In 1918 he was invited to Taos, New Mexico by Mabel Dodge, and returning in 1919, Johnson joined him there for a period of time. Also in 1919, Dasburg was one of the founding members of the Woodstock Artists Association with John F. Carlson, Frank Swift Chase, Carl Eric Lindin, and Henry Lee McFee. In 1922 Dasburg and Johnson divorced, and also at that time he began living most of the year in Santa Fe with Ida Rauh, spending the rest of the year in Woodstock and New York City. Dasburg became an active member of the Santa Fe and the Taos art colonies, befriending many artists and writers living in these communities, and remaining close friends with Mabel Dodge Luhan. Here he moved away from abstraction, and used the southwestern landscape as the inspiration for his paintings.

In 1928 he married Nancy Lane. When that marriage ended in 1932, he moved permanently to Taos, and with his third wife, Marina Wister, built a home and studio there. Dasburg periodically taught art privately and at the University of New Mexico. In 1937 he was diagnosed with Addison's disease, which left him unable to paint again until 1946. In 1945 he and his wife Marina separated. Dasburg was recognized for his career as an artist in a circulating retrospective organized by the American Federation of Arts in 1959. He also had retrospectives in Taos in 1966 and 1978. His artwork influence several generations of artists, especially in the southwest, and he continued creating art until his death in 1979 at the age of 92.

Grace Mott Johnson lived in the Johnson family home in Yonkers, New York during the 1920s and later moved to Pleasantville, New York. In 1924 she went to Egypt to study ancient Egyptian sculpture. During the 1930s she became a civil rights activist. She produced very little art during the last twenty years of her life.
Related Material:
Also found in the Archives of American Art are two oral history interviews with Andrew Dasburg, July 2, 1964 and March 6, 1974. Additional related collections at other repositories include the Andrew and Marina Wister Dasburg Papers at the New Mexico State Archives, the Andrew Dasburg Papers at Syracuse University Library, and the Grace Mott Johnson Papers at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
Separated Material:
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming. Reel 2803 contains photocopies of ten Morgan Russell letters to Dasburg. Reels 4276-4278 include biographical material, subject files, photographs, correspondence, writings, and exhibition material. The photocopies on reel 2803 were discarded after microfilming, and the items on 4276-4278 were returned to the lender. This material is not described in the collection container inventory.
Provenance:
The Andrew Dasburg and Grace Mott Johnson papers were donated by their son, Alfred Dasburg, in 1980. Syracuse Univresity lent materials for microfilming in 1978 and 1989.
Restrictions:
The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.
Rights:
The Andrew Dasburg and Grace Mott Johnson papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Topic:
Artist colonies -- New York (State)  Search this
Artist colonies -- New Mexico  Search this
Painters -- New Mexico  Search this
Works of art  Search this
Sculptors -- New York (State)  Search this
Painters -- New York (State)  Search this
Genre/Form:
Poetry
Diaries
Sketchbooks
Photographs
Citation:
Andrew Dasburg and Grace Mott Johnson papers, 1833-1980 (bulk 1900-1980). Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.dasbandr
See more items in:
Andrew Dasburg and Grace Mott Johnson papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-dasbandr
Online Media:

Walt Kuhn Family papers and Armory Show records

Creator:
Kuhn, Walt, 1877-1949  Search this
Names:
Armory Show (1913: New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Association of American Painters and Sculptors (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
International Exhibition of Modern Art  Search this
Kit Kat Club (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Penguin Club (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Davies, Arthur B. (Arthur Bowen), 1862-1928  Search this
Kuhn, Brenda, 1911-  Search this
Kuhn, Vera, d. 1961  Search this
Oldfield, Otis, 1890-1969  Search this
Pach, Walter, 1883-1958  Search this
Quinn, John, 1870-1924  Search this
Sheeler, Charles, 1883-1965  Search this
Photographer:
Rainford, Percy  Search this
Weston, Edward, 1886-1958  Search this
Extent:
31 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Drawings
Diaries
Scrapbooks
Sound recordings
Date:
1859-1984
bulk 1900-1949
Summary:
The Walt Kuhn Family papers and Armory Show records measure 31 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.
Scope and Contents note:
The Walt Kuhn Family papers and Armory Show records measure 31 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.

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, a small number of photographs, and retrospective accounts of the show. 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.
Arrangement:
This collection has been arranged into 4 series, with multiple subseries in Series 1 and 4.

Series 1: Armory Show Records, 1912-1963 (Boxes 1-2, 27-31, 56, OV 36; 3.6 linear feet)

Series 2: Association of American Painters and Sculptors (AAPS) Records, 1911-1914, undated (Box 3; 0.2 linear feet)

Series 3: Kit Kat Club and Penguin Club Records, 1909-1923, undated (Box 3, 32, 56, OVs 37-38; 0.5 linear feet)

Series 4: Walt Kuhn Family Papers, 1859-1984, undated (Box 3-26, 32-35, 56-57, OVs 39-55, 58; 26.7 linear feet)

In general, documents are arranged chronologically, alphabetically, or by type of material. Copy negatives and copy prints made from documents in this collection have been filed separately from originals, in a folder marked "copy." Duplicates of original records made or obtained by the Kuhns have been filed separately as well.

Existing envelopes are filed in front of correspondence and enclosures directly after. Correspondence in the Armory Show Records and AAPS Records is arranged alphabetically, and correspondents are listed in the box inventory following series descriptions below.
Biographical/Historical note:
Walt Kuhn (1877-1949) was an etcher, lithographer, and watercolorist, as well as being a teacher, an advisor to art collectors, an organizer, and a promoter of modern art. He played a key role in the art scene of New York City in the early 20th century, and was among the small group that organized the infamous Armory Show of 1913, officially known as the International Exhibition of Modern Art, held at the 69th Regiment Armory building in New York City. After the Armory Show, Kuhn went on to a distinguished career as a painter. He was best known for his sober oil portraits of show people, clowns, acrobats, and circus performers, but was equally prolific in landscapes, still lifes, and figure and genre drawings.

Walt Kuhn was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1877. After a brief career as a bicycle shop owner in downtown Brooklyn, Kuhn traveled West in 1899 to San Francisco, CA and earned his living as a cartoonist for newspapers such as Wasp. After two years in California, he moved back East and then on to Europe to pursue further art training. He briefly attended the Académie Colarossi studio in Paris, but quickly moved to Munich where he joined the class of Heinrich von Zügel in the Royal Academy.

Kuhn returned to New York City in 1904 and took up an active role in the art scene there, participating in the Salmagundi Club and the Kit Kat Club, teaching at the New York School of Art, and cartooning for Life, Judge, Puck, and other publications. In 1910, he participated in an exhibition of Independent Artists on 35th St. with Robert Henri and met artist Arthur B. Davies.

In 1911, when the National Academy of Design opened their annual exhibition, Kuhn, Henry Fitch Taylor, Elmer MacRae, and Jerome Myers were exhibiting at Clara Potter Davidge's Madison Gallery. To these four young artists, the Academy exhibition was typically lackluster, and the attention it received was unwarranted. Sensing that they were not alone in their attitude, they decided to organize. They invited a dozen other artists to join them, thus forming the Association of American Painters and Sculptors (AAPS). The group elected Kuhn Secretary and Arthur B. Davies President, and with the help of attorney and art collector John Quinn, they incorporated and began raising funds for an independent exhibition the following year.

In September of 1912, at Davies' suggestion, Kuhn traveled to Cologne, Germany to view the Sonderbund Internationale Kunst-Austellung. There he saw presented, in overwhelming volume, the work of his European contemporaries and their modern antecedents, the post-impressionists. He immediately began selecting and securing artwork for the upcoming AAPS exhibition. Kuhn traveled through Germany, Holland, France, and England, visiting private collectors, dealers, and artists. In Paris, Kuhn was joined by Davies and American artist and art agent Walter Pach. Kuhn and Davies sailed for New York in November, leaving the details of European arrangements to Pach.

The resulting Armory Show exhibition opened in New York in February 1913, and a selection of the foreign works traveled to Chicago and Boston in March and April. It included approximately 1300 American and European works of art, arranged in the exhibition space to advance the notion that the roots of modernism could be seen in the works of the old masters, from which the dramatically new art of living artists had evolved. Savvy and sensational publicity, combined with strategic word-of-mouth, resulted in attendance figures over 200,000 and over $44 thousand in sales. The Armory Show had demonstrated that modern art had a place in the public taste, that there was a market for it and legitimate critical support as well.

During the first World War, Kuhn stayed in NY and was active in the Kit Kat Club, an artists' club founded in 1881, which provided its members with collective studio space, live models, exhibitions, and an annual costume ball. In 1917, Kuhn founded another group called the Penguin Club, which had similar objectives to the Kit Kat Club, but with Kuhn himself as the gatekeeper. In addition to exhibitions and costume balls, the Penguin Club held summer outings and stag dinners, and maintained collective studio and exhibition space on East 15th Street in Manhattan. Its members included Americans and European artists displaced by the war in Europe. In the 1920s, Kuhn expanded a few sketches he had written for Penguin Balls into full-blown vaudeville productions, some of which were incorporated into larger musical revues such as The Merry Go Round and The 49ers and traveled around the country. Kuhn's theater work continued until 1928, and his fascination with show business continued to influence him throughout his life.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Kuhn gradually achieved recognition for his artwork, with sales to private collectors and dealers including Edith Halpert, Merritt Cutler, Lillie Bliss, John Quinn, and Marie Harriman. Kuhn also promoted other young painters whose work he liked, including Otis Oldfield, Lily Emmet Cushing, John Laurent, Frank di Gioia, and the self-taught Vermont artist Patsy Santo. Sometimes artists would contact him by mail, asking for lessons or advice. His lengthy letters to students offer coaching in technique and subject matter, as well as in the overall problem of success in art.

In 1929, Kuhn moved into the 18th St. studio that he would keep until the end of his life. He kept a rack of costumes in the studio, mostly made by Vera Kuhn, and his models, many of them stage and circus performers, would come and sit for Kuhn's portraits. The same year his painting The White Clown was exhibited at the newly established Museum of Modern Art in New York, bringing intense publicity and sales interest. Around this time, Kuhn began to receive the support of collector Duncan Phillips and curator Juliana Force of the Whitney Museum of American Art, both of whom made purchases and consistently exhibited his work.

Marie Norton Whitney Harriman, second wife of railroad magnate and diplomat W. Averell Harriman, shared a professional liaison with Kuhn that would take many forms and last until his death. Soon after the success of The White Clown, Kuhn established a relationship with the Marie Harriman Gallery, where he participated in group and solo shows during the height of his career. Kuhn also traveled with the Harrimans to Europe in 1931, where the three visited important private collections and acquired many valuable modern paintings for the Harrimans. Their collection, so heavily influenced by Kuhn's ideas about art, would eventually go to the National Gallery of Art.

Kuhn was an artist who understood the art business and never shied away from it. For Kuhn, promoting the ideas and practitioners of a certain brand of modernism was an expression of both aesthetic ideology and pragmatic self-interest. His contribution to the public discourse on modernism situated his own work at the heart of art history and the marketplace. Regardless of his motivations, he was indisputably a key player at a pivotal time in American art, when academic art was riotoulsy overturned to make way for modernism. His paintings are now held in major museum collections around the country, where most of them arrived with bequests from the collectors Kuhn had cultivated so carefully in his lifetime.

Sources consulted for this biography include The Story of the Armory Show (1988) by Milton W. Brown, Walt Kuhn, Painter: His Life and Work (1978) by Philip Rhys Adams, and "Walt Kuhn" by Frank Getlein, in the 1967 catalog of the Kennedy Galleries, Inc.
Related Archival Materials note:
The Archives of American Art holds the papers of Walter Pach, the European representative of the Armory Show.
Provenance:
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. Another addition was donated by Terry DeLapp, Kuhn's dealer, in 2015.
Restrictions:
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.
Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Occupation:
Etchers -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Watercolorists -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Lithographers -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Topic:
Art -- Societies, etc. -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
New York school of art  Search this
Modernism (Art)  Search this
Genre/Form:
Drawings
Diaries
Scrapbooks
Sound recordings
Citation:
Walt Kuhn Family papers and Armory Show records, 1859-1984. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.kuhnwalt
See more items in:
Walt Kuhn Family papers and Armory Show records
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-kuhnwalt
Online Media:

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