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Walt Kuhn, Kuhn family papers, and Armory Show records, 1859-1984, bulk 1900-1949

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A Finding Aid to the Walt Kuhn Family Papers and Armory Show Records, 1859-1984, bulk 1900-1949, in the Archives of American Art
Megan McShea
Scope and Contents note
The Walt Kuhn Family papers and Armory Show records measure 33 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 by Kuhn, 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, NJ; trips to Nova Scotia, New England, the Western United States, and Europe; New York and summer studios, among other subjects.
An unprocessed addition of 2.1 linear feet with material dating from 1894-1984 includes correspondence between Kuhn and others; photographs of Kuhn, his works of art and exhibition installations; printed material; and artifacts including a metal box containing make-up and colored pieces made of hair, the clown cloak pictured in Kuhn's painting "Sandy" and 3 copper printing plates of Kuhn's paintings.
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. The addition in 2015 was donated by Terry DeLapp, Kuhn's dealer.
Related Archival Materials note
The Archives of American Art holds the papers of Walter Pach, the European representative of the Armory Show.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Getty Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Processing Information
Each accession to the collection was initially arranged and microfilmed separately upon accession on microfilm reels D72-73, D240-D242, D344-D350, 912-916, 1191, 1607-1616, and 2917-2918. The entire collection was fully processed, arranged and described by Megan McShea in 2004 and 2005. Series 1-3 and one folder from Series 4.1 were scanned in 2006, with funding provided by the Getty Foundation. Series 4 was scanned in 2009 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the collection as described in this finding aid may not reflect the order of the collection on microfilm.