A Finding Aid to the Avis Berman Research Material on Katharine Kuh,
1939-2006
, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.bermavis3
Creators:
Berman, Avis
Dates:
1939-2006
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
3 Linear Feet
Repository:
The Avis Berman research material on art dealer and curator Katharine Kuh measures 3.0 linear feet and dates from 1939 to 2006. The materials were compiled by art historian Avis Berman in preparing Katharine Kuh's memoir, which was published posthumously as My Love Affair with Modern Art: Behind the Scenes with a Legendary Curator. The collection includes Katharine Kuh's files; Kuh's drafts, manuscripts and interviews for her memoir; and Avis Berman's files relating to the book's publication. Also included is memorabilia.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
The Avis Berman research material on art dealer and curator Katharine Kuh measures 3.0 linear feet and dates from 1939 to 2006. The materials were compiled by art historian Avis Berman in preparing Katharine Kuh's memoir, which was published posthumously as My Love Affair with Modern Art: Behind the Scenes with a Legendary Curator. The collection includes Katharine Kuh's files; Kuh's drafts, manuscripts and interviews for her memoir; and Avis Berman's files relating to the book's publication. Also included is memorabilia.
The Katharine Kuh files contain correspondence; exhibition files; writings and notes; and Kuh's interview with Lily Harmon on J. B. Neumann. Correspondents include Walter Arensberg, Marcel Duchamp, and Edgar Kaufmann. Also included is the scattered correspondence of Daniel Catton Rich with Walter Arensberg, Chester Dale, Katharine Kuh, Samuel Marx, and others. Exhibition files pertain to exhibitions curated by Katharine Kuh for the Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection and one-man shows for Rico Lebrun and Mark Tobey, respectively.
Sorting Out and Summing Up: Episodes in An Art Odyssey contains Katharine Kuh's draft versions of book chapters; her manuscripts and interviews; and drafts of chapters that were not incorporated in the published memoir. Also included are manuscripts for the memoir and an annotated version of Avis Berman's interview with Kuh.
The Avis Berman files include correspondence, writings, printed material, clippings, press releases, and miscellaneous printed material. Files document Berman's activities concerning the publication of the memoir.
Memorabilia consists of a monograph and a memorial booklet.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 4 series:
  • Series 1: Katharine Kuh Files, 1944-2003 (Box 1; 0.3 linear feet)
  • Series 2: Sorting Out and Summing Up: Episodes in an Art Odyssey by Katharine Kuh, 1939-2006 (Boxes 1-3; 2.0 linear feet)
  • Series 3: Avis Berman Files, 1950s-2006 (Box 3; 0.6 linear feet)
  • Series 4: Memorabilia, 1976, 1977 (0.1 linear feet)

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
Writer and art historian, Avis Berman lives and works in New York City. Berman was a close friend of Katharine Kuh's and is Kuh's literary executor. Berman compiled Katharine Kuh's research materials for the memoir that she was working on at the time of her death; the book was subsequently published as My Love Affair with Modern Art: Behind the Scenes with a Legendary Curator in 2006.
Katharine Kuh (1904-1994) was a curator and art dealer born in St. Louis, Missouri. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College in 1925, where she studied art history under Alfred Barr. In 1928, she earned her Master's in Art History at the University of Chicago. As a graduate student, Kuh developed an interest in modern art, particularly the work of European artists.
Kuh married George Kuh, a businessman in 1930. She and Kuh divorced six years later.
In 1935, she established the Katharine Kuh Gallery in Chicago. The gallery was dedicated to featuring the works of contemporary European and American painters and sculptors, such as Alexander Archipenko, Alexei Jawlensky, Wassily Kandinsky, Gyorgy Kepes, Paul Klee, Gaston Lachaise, Fernand Léger, Carlos Mérida, Joan Miro, Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, Pablo Picasso, as well as Charles Biederman, Alexander Calder, Stuart Davis, and Isamu Noguchi, among others. The Katharine Kuh Gallery was one of the first galleries in Chicago to show photography as art. Kuh held exhibitions for Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter, Edward Weston, and she also showed the photographs of Gyorgy Kepes and Man Ray.
At the gallery, Kuh taught classes on an informal basis to individuals interested in modern art. During this period, she spent her summers as a Visiting Professor of Art History at the University School of Fine Arts of San Miguel in Guanajuarto, Mexico (1938-1940). With the onset of America's involvement in World War II, Kuh realized that the war would curtail her contact with many of the European artists whose works she had promoted and in 1942, she decided to close the gallery.
In 1943, Katharine Kuh took a position in the public relations department at the Art Institute of Chicago. The following year, Kuh was asked to take over the Gallery of Art Interpretation at the Art Institute. Later she was appointed the Curator of Painting and Sculpture; in this role, she developed a close collaborative relationship with the Director of the Art Institute, Daniel Catton Rich. From 1946-1953, she served as the Editor of the Art Institute of Chicago Quarterly.
She left the Art Institute in 1959 and settled in New York City. She served as an art editor at the Saturday Review and World Magazine. She was also an art consultant for the First National Bank of Chicago from 1968-1979.
Katharine Kuh traveled extensively and often wrote about the art of the places she visited such as Sicily, Turkey, and the Yucatan. In the 1940s Kuh developed an interest in the wood carvings of the Indian tribes in the Pacific Northwest. The University of Alaska awarderd her an honorary doctorate for her efforts to preserve the indigenous artwork of the region's Native Americans.
Her publications on twentieth-century art included: Art Has Many Faces (1951), The Artist's Voice: Talks with Seventeen Artists (1962), Break-up: The Core of Modern Art (1965), and The Open Eye: In Pursuit of Art (1971). Kuh also wrote the catalog that accompanied the "Fernand Léger Retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago" (1953). At the time of her death, Katharine Kuh had completed a final draft of her memoir, which she had tentatively titled, Sorting Out and Summing Up: Episodes in an Art Odyssey.
In 1994, Katharine Kuh died in New York City.

Administration
Location of Originals
The collection includes photocopies of Katharine Kuh's correspondence; some of the letters may be among the Katharine Kuh papers, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The Daniel Catton Rich correspondence is located at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Processing Information
The collection was processed to a minimal level by Joy Weiner in 2009.
Author
Joy Weiner
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
The Avis Berman Research Material, 1939-2006 was donated to the Archives of American Art by Avis Berman, an art historian and literary executor of Katharine Kuh's estate in 2007.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Avis Berman research material on Katharine Kuh, 1939-2006. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Restrictions on Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Ownership and Literary Rights
Authorization to quote, publish, or reproduce requires written permission from: Avis Berman, 407 East 91st Street, New York, New York 10128.

Related Material
The Archives of American Art holds the Katharine Kuh papers, 1908-1994. Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Katharine Kuh conducted by Avis Berman, March 18, 1982-March 23, 1983. Additional Katharine Kuh material is located at the Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Modern Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art dealers -- Illinois -- Chicago Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Curators -- Illinois-Chicago Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lebrun, Rico, 1900-1964 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Neumann, J. B. (Jsrael Ber) Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rich, Daniel Catton, 1904-1976 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tobey, Mark Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Duchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Harmon, Lily, 1912- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kaufmann, Edgar, 1910-1989 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kuh, Katharine Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Arensberg, Walter, 1878-1954 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dale, Chester, b. 1883 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
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Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
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