Walt Kuhn  (American, 1877-1949) 

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Walt Kuhn (American, 1877–1949) was known for his love of theatrics and show business. This interest was instilled in the artist at a young age by his mother while he was growing up in Brooklyn. In 1899, Kuhn left the East Coast for California, and continued his travels to Paris and eventually Munich, where he studied at the Royal Academy. The artist decided to return to the United States in 1903, and began exhibiting his art in various venues.

Kuhn’s 1909 solo exhibition proved to be one of the turning points of his career. Around this time, Kuhn helped to establish the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, the group credited for the execution of the acclaimed Armory Show in 1913. As executive secretary of the show, Kuhn was charged with finding both European and American artists to participate in the landmark exhibition, which sought to expose the American public to the progress of Modern and avant-garde European Art. At first seen as a scandalous affair, the Armory Show would later gain world renown, with many of the pieces on display considered masterworks today. In 1938, Kuhn reflected on his participation in the exhibition in his essay The Story of the Armory Show.

Aside from his participation in the Armory Show, Kuhn is most famous for his drawings, theater set designs, and paintings. Most well known are his brooding portraits of performers and vaudeville entertainers as models. His bold use of line and background color enhanced their expressions, which were anything but similar to those witnessed by the public watching the entertainers in their shows.

These intimate portraits showed a darker side to Kuhn’s beloved show business, a darkness that later affected the artist’s health. During his final years, he became increasingly detached and confused, and was institutionalized in 1948. The artist died on July 13, 1949, but left behind a legacy of paintings, as well as Modern Art’s greatest show. Kuhn’s work is collected by highly revered institutions such as the MoMA, New York, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles.

Find Walt Kuhn artworks for sale worldwide, artworks that sold at auction, a detailed biography, and more information on the artist below.
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Walt Kuhn, The Grenadier

 

Walt Kuhn
The Grenadier
1930

Hirschl & Adler Galleries
Walt Kuhn, Zinnias in a Brown Crock

 

Walt Kuhn
Zinnias in a Brown Crock
1943

William McWillie Chambers III
Walt Kuhn, Gone Fishing

 

Walt Kuhn
Gone Fishing
Green River Gallery
Walt Kuhn, Watch your Back

 

Walt Kuhn
Watch your Back
Green River Gallery
Walt Kuhn, Cleaning Camp

 

Walt Kuhn
Cleaning Camp
Green River Gallery
Walt Kuhn, Portrait of Bert Lahr

 

Walt Kuhn
Portrait of Bert Lahr
1947

Robert Funk Fine Art
Walt Kuhn, The Gang

 

Walt Kuhn
The Gang
1929

Green River Gallery
Walt Kuhn, Seated Acrobat Wearing White Athletic Shirt

 

Walt Kuhn
Seated Acrobat Wearing White Athletic Shirt
circa 1928-1930

Ricco/Maresca
Walt Kuhn, Clowns

 

Walt Kuhn
Clowns
1925

DC Moore Gallery
Past auction results (534)  View All
Walt Kuhn, Soprano

 

Walt Kuhn
Soprano, 1944
oil on canvas

 

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Walt Kuhn, The offering

 

Walt Kuhn
The offering
charcoal on paper

 

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Walt Kuhn, Four Cowboys and a Dog

 

Walt Kuhn
Four Cowboys and a Dog, 1936
ink on paper

 

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1877   Born New York, NY
  Along with Arthur B. Davis he organized the landmark Armory Show of 1913. Best known for his description of circus performers, although he did landscapes and still lifes as well as many pen and ink nudes.
  Examples of his work can be found in numerous museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago
2005   Eye Contact: Painting and Drawing in American Art, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New york, New York
2004   Art in America: 1909-1959, Francis M. Nauann Fine Art, New York, NY
1997   Independent Visions: Landscapes by Avery, BLuemner, Buchfield, Kuhn, and Marin, DC Moore Gallery, New York, NY
1994   Trees, Midtown Payson Galleries, New York, NY
Who Needs A Bathing Suit, Anyway? Naked Men and Women in American Art, Midtown Payson Galleries, New York, NY
Eros & Identity, Stuart Levy Fine Art, New York, NY
1993   Nature's Bounty: American Floral Paintings 1835-1935, Whitney Museum of American Art at Champion, Stamford, CT
1992   Walt Kuhn, Museum of Ogunquit, Ogunquit, MA
Walt Kuhn: People and performers, Midtown Payson Galleries, New York, NY
The Art of Main: A Bounty of Woods and Water, Monmouth Museum, Lincroft, NJ
An American Experience, The Barbara Scott Gallery, Bay Harbor Islands, FL
Selection of Works Featuring Flowers, The Swan Coach House Gallery, Washington DC
1991   Specially Selected American Masters 1759-1991, Kennedy Galleries, New York, NY
Under the Big Top, Circus in Art, Hecksher Museum, Huntington, NY
1990   Men of the REbellion: The Eight and their Associates at the Phillips Collection, The Phillips COllection, Washington DC
1989   Walt Kuhn (1877-1949), Midtown Payson Galleries, New York, NY
Walt Kuhn-Paintings, Drawings, Prints, A Study of Related Works, Traveling Exhibition: University of Maine Museum of Art, Orono, ME; Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME; Barn Gallery, Ogunquit, ME; Walt Kuhn Gallery of Art, Cape Neddick, ME
1988   Walt Kuhn: The Landscapes, Salander O'Reilly Galleries, New York, NY
1987   Walt Kuhn: Selected Works, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH
Walt Kuhn: The Entertainers, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Eliot Museum, Stuart, FL; Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, NC
1984   Walt Kuhn: Selected Works, Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, MI
1980   Opening Exhibition, The Walt Kuhn Gallery, Cape Neddick, ME
Walt Kuhn Still Life Paintings, Kennedy Galleries, New York, NY
1978 - 1979   Walt Kuhn: A Classic Revivial, Traveling Exhibition: Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, Fort Worth, TX; Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE; Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS; Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, CO
1968   Walt Kuhn, Kennedy Galleries, New York, NY
1966   Painter of Vision: A Retrospective Exhibition of Oils, Watercolors and Drawings by Walt Kuhn, University of Arizona Art Gallery Tucson, AZ
1921   Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings Showing the Later Tendencies in Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Philadelphia, PA