The papers of art historian, dealer, critic, and curator Katharine Kuh measure 12 linear feet and date from 1875-1994, with the bulk of the material dating from 1930-1994. The collection documents Kuh's career as a pioneer modernist art historian and as the first woman curator of European Art and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago. Found within the papers are biographical material; correspondence with family, friends and colleagues; personal business records; artwork by various artists; a travel journal; writings by Kuh and others; scrapbooks; printed material; photographs of Kuh and others; and audio recordings of Kuh's lectures and of Daniel Catton Rich reading poetry.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of art historian, dealer, critic, and curator Katharine Kuh measure 12 linear feet and date from 1875-1994, with the bulk of the material dating from 1930-1994. Found within the papers are biographical material; correspondence with family, friends and colleagues; personal business records; artwork by various artists; a travel journal; writings by Kuh and others; scrapbooks; printed material; photographs of Kuh and others; and audio recordings of Kuh's lectures and of Daniel Catton Rich reading poetry.
Biographical material consists of copies of Kuh's birth certificate, resumés, passports, award certificates, honorary diplomas, and address books listing information about several prominent artists and colleagues.
Four linear feet of correspondence offers excellent documentation of Kuh's interest in art history, her travels, her career at the Art Institute of Chicago, her work as a corporate art advisor, and as an author. There are letters from her mother Olga Woolf, friends, and colleagues. There is extensive correspondence with various staff members of the Art Institute of Chicago, the First National Bank of Chicago, and The Saturday Review. Also of interest are letters from artists and collectors, several of whom became life-long friends including Walter and Louise Arensberg, Cosmo Campoli, Serge Chermayeff, Richard Cox, Worden Day, Claire Falkenstein, Fred Friendly, Leon Golub, Joseph Goto, David Hare, Denise Brown Hare, Jean Hélion, Ray Johnson, Gyorgy and Juliet Kepes, Len Lye, Wallace Putnam, Kurt Seligmann, Shelby Shackelford, Hedda Sterne, and Clyfford Still. Many letters are illustrated with original artwork in various media.
There are also scattered letters from various artists and other prominent individuals including Josef Albers, George Biddle, Marcel Breuer, Joseph Cornell, Stuart Davis, Edwin Dickinson, Joseph Hirshhorn, Daniel Catton Rich, and Dorothea Tanning.
Personal business records include a list of artwork, Olga Woolf's will, inventories of Kuh's personal art collection, miscellaneous contracts and deeds of gift, receipts for the sale of artwork, files concerning business-related travel, and miscellaneous receipts.
Artwork in the collection represents a wide range of artist friends and media, such as drawings, watercolors, paintings, collages, and prints. Included are works by various artists including lithographs by David Hare and a watercolor set, Technics and Creativity, designed and autographed by Jasper Johns for the Museum of Modern Art, 1970.
Notes and writings include annotated engagement calendars, travel journals for Germany, a guest book for the Kuh Memorial gathering, and many writings and notes by Kuh for lectures and articles concerning art history topics. Of interest are minutes/notes from meetings for art festivals, conferences, and the "Conversations with Artists Program (1961). Also found are writings by others about Kuh and other art history topics.
Six scrapbooks contain clippings that document the height of Kuh's career as a gallery director and museum curator. Scrapbook 6 contains clippings about Fernand Léger, the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1953.
Additional printed material includes clippings about Kuh and her interests, a comprehensive collection of clippings of Kuh's articles for The Saturday Review, exhibition announcements and catalogs, calendars of events, programs, brochures, books including Poems by Kuh as a child, and reproductions of artwork. Of particular interest are the early and exhibition catalogs from the Katharine Kuh Gallery, and rare catalogs for artists including Jean Arp, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Stanley William Hayter, Hans Hofmann, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Franz Kline, Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Pablo Picasso.
Photographs provide important documentation of the life and career of Katharine Kuh and are of Kuh, family members, friends, colleagues, events, residences, and artwork. Several of the photographs of Kuh were taken by Will Barnet and Marcel Breuer and there is a notable pair of photo booth portraits of Kuh and a young Ansel Adams. There are also group photographs showing Angelica Archipenko with Kuh; designer Klaus Grabe; painters José Chavez Morado and Pablo O'Higgins in San Miguel, Mexico; Kuh at the Venice Biennale with friends and colleagues including Peggy Guggenheim, Frances Perkins, Daniel Catton Rich, and Harry Winston; and "The Pre-Depressionists" including Lorser Feitelson, Robert Inverarity, Helen Lundeberg, Arthur Millier, Myron Chester Nutting, and Muriel Tyler Nutting.
Photographs of exhibition installations and openings include views of the Katharine Kuh Gallery; Fernand Léger, Man Ray, and László Moholy-Nagy at the Art Institute of Chicago; and Philip Guston, Jimmy Ernst, Seymour H. Knox, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, and Mark Rothko at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. There are also photographs depicting three men posing as Léger's "Three Musicians" and the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to the Art Institute of Chicago. There is a photograph by Peter Pollack of an elk skull used as a model by Georgia O'Keeffe.
Additional photographs of friends and colleagues include Ivan Albright, Alfred Barr, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Willem De Kooning, Edwin Dickinson, Marcel Duchamp, Claire Falkenstein, Alberto Giacometti, poet Robert Graves with Len Lye, Philip Johnson, Gyorgy and Juliet Kepes, Carlos Mérida, José Orozco, Hasan Ozbekhan, Pablo Picasso, Carl Sandberg, Ben Shahn, Otto Spaeth, Hedda Sterne, Adlai Stevenson, Clyfford Still, Mark Tobey, and composer Victor Young.
Photographs of artwork include totem poles in Alaska; work by various artists including Claire Falkenstein, Paul Klee, and Hedda Sterne; and work donated to the Guggenheim Museum.
Four audio recordings on cassette are of Katharine Kuh's lectures, including one about assembling corporate collections, and of Daniel Catton Rich reading his own poetry. There is also a recording of the Second Annual Dialogue between Broadcasters and Museum Educators.
The collection is arranged as 9 series. Undated correspondence, artwork, and photographs of individual artists are arranged alphabetically. Otherwise, each series is arranged chronologically.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1945-1992 (Box 1; 16 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1908-1994 (Boxes 1-5, 13-14, OV 15; 4.0 linear feet)
Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1941-1989 (Box 5; 19 folders)
Series 4: Artwork, 1931-1986 (Boxes 5, 13-14, OVs 15-23; 1.7 linear feet)
Series 5: Notes and Writings, 1914-1994 (Boxes 5-7; 1.7 linear feet)
Series 6: Scrapbooks, 1935-1953 (Box 7; 8 folders)
Series 7: Printed Material, 1916-1992 (Boxes 7-10, 13, OV 22; 3.0 linear feet)
Series 8: Photographs, 1875-1993 (Boxes 10-13; 1.2 linear feet)
Series 9: Audio Recordings, 1977 (Box 12; 1 folder)
Katharine Kuh (1904-1994) worked primarily in the Chicago area as an modern art historian, dealer, critic, curator, writer, and consultant. She operated the Katharine Kuh Gallery from 1935-1943 and was the first woman curator of European and Art and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Katharine Kuh (née Woolf) was born on July 15, 1904 in St. Louis, Missouri, the youngest of the three daughters of Olga Weiner and Morris Woolf, a silk importer. In 1909, the family moved to Chicago, Illinois. While traveling with her family in Europe in 1914, Katharine contracted polio, causing her to spend the next decade in a body brace. During this time of restricted movement, she developed an interest in art history through the collecting of old master prints.
After her recovery, Katharine Woolf attended Vassar College where one of her professors, Alfred Barr, encouraged her to study modern art. She graduated from Vassar in 1925 and received a master's degree in art history from the University of Chicago in 1929. Later that year, she moved to New York to pursue a Ph.D. in Renaissance and medieval art at New York University.
In 1930, Katharine Woolf returned to Chicago and married businessman George Kuh and began to teach art history courses in the suburbs of Chicago. After divorcing George Kuh in 1935, she opened the Katharine Kuh Gallery, the first gallery devoted to avant-garde art in Chicago. It was also the first gallery to exhibit photography and typographical design as art forms, and featured the work of Ansel Adams, Josef Albers, Alexander Calder, Wassily Kandinsky, Fernand Léger, and Man Ray, among others. From 1938 to1940, Kuh was the Visiting Professor of Art at the University School of Fine Arts, San Miguel, Mexico.
After the Katharine Kuh Gallery closed in 1943, Kuh was hired by museum director Daniel Catton Rich to fill a position in public relations at the Art Institute of Chicago. During the following years, Kuh edited the museum's Quarterly publication, took charge of the museum's Gallery of Interpretive Art, and began a long term relationship with Rich. In 1946, Kuh was sent on a special mission for the U. S. Office of Indian Affairs to make a detailed study of Native American totemic carvings in Alaska.
In 1949, Kuh persuaded Mr. and Mrs. Walter Arensberg of Los Angeles to exhibit their collection of modern art, creating the first post-war exhibition of modern art in Chicago. She published her first book Art Has Many Faces in 1951, and in the following year, she began writing art criticism for The Saturday Review. In 1954, Kuh was appointed the first woman curator of European Art and Sculpture at the Art Institute. She assembled the American contribution for the Venice Biennale in 1956 and during these years, Kuh helped acquire many of the works of modern art currently in the museum's collection.
A year following Daniel Catton Rich's 1958 resignation from the Art Institute of Chicago, Kuh also resigned and pursued a career in New York as an art collection advisor, most notably for the First National Bank of Chicago. In 1959, Kuh was made art critic for The Saturday Review, and she continued to publish books, including The Artist's Voice in 1962, Break-Up: The Core of Modern Art in 1965, and The Open Eye: In Pursuit of Art in 1971.
Katharine Kuh died on January 10, 1994 in New York City.
The Katharine Kuh papers were donated in several installments from 1971 to 1989 by Katharine Kuh and in 1994 by her estate. Artwork was donated in 1995 by Kuh's former employer, the Art Institute of Chicago.
Authorization to quote, publish or reproduce requires written permission until 2019. Contact the Archives of American Art Reference Services department for additional information.
Biographical material, correspondence with architects and artists (1903-1978), writings (1923-1969), a diary, an autograph book, subject files, printed material, photographs (1883-1979) and 5 photograph albums reflect the career of Walter Gropius, the activities of his wife Ise, and her recollections of the Bauhaus. Also included are 5 cassette tapes, untranscribed and unmicrofilmed.
REELS 2270-2283: Walter Gropius' correspondence concerns family matters (1903-1933), locating his sister in Berlin after World War II (1945-1946), and the Bauhaus Archiv (1957-1968). Ise Gropius' correspondents (1969-1978) include Alvar Aalto, Herbert Bayer, Hannes Beckmann, Arcangelo Cascieri, Ivan and Serge Chermayeff, Adolf Klarmann, Helmut Koch, Gerhard Marcks, Jack Pritchard, Hans Scharoun, and Konrad Wachsmann. Other correspondence concerns exhibitions about Gropius (1969-1976). Writings by Walter Gropius include lecture notes and short essays on architecture and design. A subject file (1945-1954) concerns visits to Japan. Printed material (1910-1978) includes galley proof sheets and clippings (1913-1957).
REELS 2284-2286: Photographs (1896-1937) show family members including Gropius' first wife Alma Schindler and their daughter Manon; Gropius' architectural projects including finished buildings, models, blueprints, and drawings (1906-1952); and an exhibition in London on Gropius.
REEL 2287: Biographical material (1883-1979) consists of Gropius' birth, marriage and death certificates, his military record (1914-1917), contracts, U.S. naturalization papers (1941-1944), financial documents (1945), Ise Gropius' will (1979), a list of works, a history of the Gropius family, real estate records, and membership cards. Excerpts from letters written by Marcel Breuer describe his European travels (1931-1937). A file on the Walter Gropius Foundation contains letters and notes (1969). An autograph book kept by Ise Gropius (1924-1981) contains illustrations by Herbert Bayer, Gyorgy and Juliet Kepes, Joan Miro, Kurt Schwitters, and Phyllis Terry, as well as autographs, notes and photographs. Writings by Ise Gropius include lecture notes and printed essays (1935-1943).
REEL 2287a: Twenty-six letters (1932-1952) from Herbert Bayer, written in German and English, to Gropius. Thirteen excerpts from Bayer's letters (1932-1949) are translated into English.
REELS 2330-2331: Photographs (1883-1979) show Walter Gropius, family members, and colleagues including Alvar Aalto, Bela Bartok, Herbert Bayer, Marcel Breuer, Alexander Calder, Arcangelo Cascieri, Naum Gabo, Julian Huxley, Gyorgy Kepes, Paul Klee, Le Corbusier, I. M. Pei, Diego Rivera, Jose Luis Sert, Kenzo Tange, Frank Lloyd Wright, and members of Gropius' firm, The Architects Collaborative. Other photographs show a skit by students of the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Bauhaus (1979).
REEL 2393: English translations of correspondence between Ise and Walter Gropius (1931-1969) and Ise's 1928 letter to a journalist commenting on Walter Gropius' resignation from the Bauhaus. A handwritten German copy (with a typewritten English translation) of a section of Ise Gropius' unpublished memoir describes her first meeting with Gropius and their courtship and marriage (1923-1929). A German transcript was not filmed. A typewritten English translation of Ise Gropius' diary (1924-1928) describes activities at the Bauhaus and mentions Josef Albers, Herbert Bayer, Marcel Breuer, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Otto Klemperer, Alma Mahler, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Georg Muche, Kurt Schwitters, Igor Stravinsky, and Franz Werfel. A handwritten translation is filmed on reel 4130.
REEL 2764: One photograph album (1925-1930) contains photographs of Walter and Ise Gropius and colleagues including Josef Albers, Herbert Bayer, Marcel Breuer, Lyonel Feininger, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Georg Muche, Claude Petit, and Joost Schmidt; construction of the Bauhaus (1925-1926); and sights in Germany and Italy. Four albums on the United States contain Gropius' photographs of New York City architecture, the Brooklyn Bridge, Chicago, California housing and industry, the Grand Canyon, and American Indians.
UNMICROFILMED: 5 cassette tapes, untranscribed, including a lecture delivered by Walter Gropius as part of "The Heritage of Man" lecture series, Cleveland, Ohio, February 13, 1952; an interview of Ise conducted by the Canadian Broadcasting Company, October 28, 1977; and 3 of a monologue delivered by Ise, 1978, in which she speaks of her early childhood.
Biographical / Historical:
Architect, educator and founder of the Bauhaus school. Born in Berlin, Walter Gropius studied at the University of Charlottenburg-Berlin and Munich. Following European travel and apprenticeship with Peter Behrens in Berlin, he established his own practice in 1910. After military service in WWI, he became director of the School of Applied Arts and the Academy of Arts, united the two and named the new institute Bauhaus Dessau in 1925. Between 1934 and 1937, he had a private practice in London. From 1938 to 1952, Gropius was chairman of Harvard's Graduate School of Design and maintained a private practice with Marcel Breuer from 1938 to 1941. Gropius married Alma Schindler, Gustav Mahler's widow, in 1915. In 1923, he married Ise (or Ilse) Franck (1897-1983).
Additional photographs of Alma (Schindler) Mahler Werfel located at Bauhaus Archiv, Berlin, Germany.
Lent for microfilming by Ise Gropius and her daughter, Beate Gropius Forberg Johansen, 1982-1983, except for selected items on reel 2393, the handwritten translation of Ise's diary on reel 4130 and cassette tapes, which were donated in 1981, 1983 and 1987, respectively. Some photographs from albums on reel 2764 which would not reproduce were not microfilmed.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.
An interview of Massimo Vignelli conducted 2011 June 6-7, by Mija Riedel, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at Vignelli's home and office, in New York, New York.
Vignelli speaks of his youth and early start in art design and architecture; his early work at Catiglione architects at the age of 16; his father; his education; meeting his favorite architects; his influences; architecture and design magazines; organic and rationalist architecture in Italy; influence of Ignazio Gardella; Adolf Loos' idea of spoon to the city; European, American, and Italian architecture; education in Milan; his work with Venini Glass; Italian design; his early graphic work; design and vulgarity; marriage and working with Lella Vignelli; graphic design work at the Container Corporation; concept of design as a whole; his work on corporate identities; his establishment of Vignelli Associates; introduction and use of Helvetica in the United States; working with Knoll; choosing clients; design and culture; his work on St. Peter's Lutheran Church; design work for the United States National Parks newspaper design and layout; Unimark; timelessness and design; working with Poltrona Frau, Zero Labor design; major influences; his work for the United States Postal Service; connectivity and context in architecture; his clothing designs and historical perspectives on clothing; postmodernism; his work on the New York Subway; design work before and after computers; Japanese architecture and design; his work as a teacher; Oliviero Toscani and working for Benetton; America and international design; modernism and the office building; modern design and furniture; a timeline of his career; the Vignelli Center at RIT and archiving. Vignelli also recalls, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Giuseppe Terragni, Giuseppe Pagano, Domus, Gió Ponti, Metron, Bruno Zevi, Ignazio Gardella, Ray and Charles Eames, Giancarlo De Carlo, Venini Glass, Carlo Scarpa, Ralph Eckerstrom, Umberto Eco, Sansoni Publishing House, Vignelli Associates, Walter Kacik, Helvetica, Knoll, St. Peter's Lutheran Church, National Parks, New York Herald, Unimark, Lella Vignelli, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Poltrona Frau, Dieter Rams, Louis Kahn, Stendig Calendar, A to Z, Salon de Mobile, Michael Graves, Robert Venturi, Oliviero Toscani, Benetton, Herman Miller, Steelcase, and the Vignelli Center.
Biographical / Historical:
Massimo Vignelli (1931- ) is a designer in New York, New York. Mija Riedel (1958- ) is an independent scholar in San Francisco, California.
Originally recorded as 9 sound files. Duration is 6 hr., 52 min.
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.
5 Reels (ca. 1200 items (on 5 partial microfilm reels))
Scope and Contents:
Papers relate mainly to the Blue Four and contain primarily correspondence; also business materials, photographs, essays, and printed materials.
REEL 1644: Correspondence with Lyonel Feininger and his wife Julia, mainly concerning personal matters, contemporary events in Europe and America, and Scheyer's efforts to establish the Blue Four's reputation on the west coast. Many letters are illustrated with Feininger block cuts.
REEL 1854: Letters from Feininger, Alexei Jawlensky, Wassily Kandinsky, and Paul Klee; typescripts of letters to members of the Blue Four; import declarations; a shipping invoice; a consular certificate for paintings; and price lists of works of art.
REEL 1905: Correpsondence documenting Scheyer's friendship with various artists associated with the Blue Four and her efforts to exhibit and sell their work. Important correpsondents include: Alexander Archipenko, Hans Arp, Giorgio de Chirico, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Klee, Le Corbusier, Fernand Leger, Carlos Merida, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Diego Rivera, Arthur Segal, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Arnold Schoenberg, Kurt Schwitters, Rufino Tamayo, Mies van der Rohe, Edgar Varese, Max Weber, and Edward Weston. Also included are miscellaneous photographs, essays, notes, and financial and printed materials.
REEL 2031-2032: Correspondence with Alexei Jawlensky and Wassily Kandinsky, including several illustrated letters; two photographs of interiors; a published article by Kandindsky, "Abstrakte Kunst," ca. 1925-1926; and price lists for works of art by Kandkinsky. Some letters are typescripts.
Biographical / Historical:
Art collector, dealer; b. 1889; d. 1945; Los Angeles, Calif. Scheyer worked to introduce the art of the Blue Four (Blaue Vier), Wassily Kandinsky, Lyonel Feininger, Paul Klee, and Alexei Jawlensky, to American collectors.
Galka Scheyer Blue Four Archive.
Lent for microfilming by Norton Simon Museum of Art, 1979-1980.
The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.
Interview of Moshe Safdie conducted by George M. Goodwin.
Safdie discusses becoming an architect; moving from Israel to Canada at 15, his family background; attending McGill University; the work of Erich Mendelsohn in Palestine; his relationship to Richard Meier; and the work of other architects, including Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Kahn, Frank Gehry, R.M. Schindler, and Richard Neutra; how being a Jew is central to his identity and his work; his significant buildings; critics' attitudes; clients' response; and 1992 projects.
An interview of Pietro Belluschi conducted 1983 August 22-September 4, by Meredith Clausen, for the Archives of American Art's Northwest Oral History Project.
Belluschi speaks of his family background, his military service, his education, the beginning of his interest and experience in architecture, his gradual transition into modernism and his experiences as a dean at M.I.T. He discusses his design philosophy and the roles of style versus problem solving, shopping center design, church design, the stylistic differences between architects, and historic preservation. He comments on the influence of Le Corbusier and Alvar Aalto on his work and talks about some of his major designs, including the Portland Art Museum, the Equitable Building, the Seattle Convention Center, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Pietro Belluschi (1899-1994) was an architect from Portland, Oregon.
Originally recorded on 8 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 14 digital wav files. Duration is 7 hrs., 10 min.
This interview is part of the Archives' Northwest Oral History Project, begun in 1982 to document the Northwest artistic community through interviews with painters, sculptors, craftsmen, educators, curators, and others, in Oregon, Washington and Montana.
Le Corbusier's secret laboratory from painting to architecture edited by Jean-Louis Cohen ; with Staffan Ahrenberg ; with essays by Jean-Louis Cohen ... [et al. ; translations, Caroline Higgitt, John Wheelwright, John Tittensor]