Oral history interview with Katharine Kuh
Portions of this collection are digitized

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.kuh82
Creators:
Kuh, Katharine
Berman, Avis
Mark Rothko and His Times Oral History Project
Dates:
1982 Mar. 18-1983 Mar. 24
Languages:
English
.
Physical Description:
313 Pages
Transcript
Repository:

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
An interview of Katharine Kuh conducted 1982 Mar. 18-1983 Mar. 24, by Avis Berman, for the Archives of American Art's Mark Rothko and His Times oral history project.
Scope and Contents
Kuh speaks of her invalid childhood in Chicago, the development of her interest in art, classes in art history at Vassar College, and her career as curator of modern art at the Art Institute of Chicago. She recalls in particular the "Sanity in Art" movement against modern art in Chicago. Kuh describes her relationship with Mark Rothko and Rothko's relationships with Mark Tobey, Clyfford Still, Kate Rothko, Theodoros Stamos, Milton Avery, Stanley Kunitz, and Hans Hofmann.
Scope and Contents
Kuh discusses her parents, the family silk business, travelling in Europe as a child, life in Chicago, the effects of polio and other illnesses on her interests, and her student years at Vassar College. She remembers visiting Bernard Berenson in Italy with her family and again with Daniel Catton Rich, with whom she worked very closely at the Art Institute of Chicago. She speaks of the Katharine Kuh Gallery, which she started in the mid-1930s and its place in the vanguard of the Chicago art scene.
Scope and Contents
Kuh remembers the effects of the stock market crash on her personal situation, her marriage to businessman George Kuh, distaste for life in the suburbs, and her divorce. She discusses the Katharine Kuh Gallery and the actions taken against her business by members of the reactionary "Sanity in Art" movement (including a very funny anecdote concerning Carlos Merida). She speaks of the classes in modern art that she taught at her gallery and of some of the artists she exhibited there, including the photographers Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, and Edward Weston.
Scope and Contents
Kuh remembers the McCarthy era and the political conservatism in Chicago, including her testimony on behalf of Bill Zimmerman, Acting Commissioner of Indian Affairs. She criticizes blockbuster exhibitions and the changes in the role of a museum curator. She reminisces about building the collection at the Art Institute of Chicago and the art education program she ran there, and recalls Stuart Davis, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Gyorgy Kepes, and Ivan Albright.
Scope and Contents
Kuh remembers Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Marcel Duchamp, as well as the collectors Walter Paepcke and Walter and Louise Arensberg (whose collection she surveyed in their home for an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago).
Scope and Contents
Kuh focuses on her memories of Mark Rothko, recalling when they met, their friendship, his manner of working, his feelings about his work, and his worries towards the end of his life. She talks about Clyfford Still, Barnett Newman, and Mark Tobey. Some parts of this tape repeat what she said earlier.
Scope and Contents
Kuh continues discussing Rothko, particularly his Houston chapel murals and the retrospective exhibition at MOMA in 1961. She remembers visiting Rothko's studio and describes his working methods. She relates Rothko's views on other artists, including Milton Avery, Clyfford Still, Turner, Robert Motherwell, and Adolf Gottlieb; parts repeat things said before. Kuh also discusses Rothko's wife and daughter.
Scope and Contents
Kuh recounts building the collection at the Art Institute of Chicago and speaks of the museum staff, trustees, and donors. She remembers Alfred Barr at MOMA.
Scope and Contents
Kuh continues speaking about the Art Institute of Chicago, describing the circumstances of her resignation and subsequent move to New York. She talks of knowing Peggy Guggenheim, Max Ernst, and Fernand Leger.
Scope and Contents
Kuh describes her work as a consultant to college museums and her writings. She discusses the field of art criticism and her career as art editor at Saturday Review. She recalls Clyfford Still's retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and his death.
Scope and Contents
Kuh describes her work as a collector for the First National Bank of Chicago.
Scope and Contents
Kuh recounts more about her work at Saturday Review and her resignation. She goes into great detail about her travels in Alaska and British Columbia surveying Northwest Indian art for a government report. She speaks again about the McCarthy era.
Scope and Contents
Kuh speaks again about the Katharine Kuh Gallery and the artists she exhibited there, including Josef Albers (and his Black Mountain College), Alexander Archipenko, Stuart Davis, Paul Klee, Alexander Calder, and Man Ray.
Scope and Contents
Kuh continues her discussion of artists she exhibited at the Katharine Kuh Gallery, including Mark Tobey, Paul Klee, and Isamu Noguchi.
Scope and Contents
Kuh continues talking about artists she exhibited at the Katharine Kuh Gallery, including David Smith, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Eliot Porter, Rufino Tamayo, and Jack Tworkov.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Katharine Kuh (1904-1994) was an art consultant, curator, and critic from Chicago and New York City.

Administration
Existence and Location of Copies
35mm microfilm reel 4937 available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
Sponsor
Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This interview was conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's Mark Rothko and his Times oral history project, with funding provided by the Mark Rothko Foundation.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Others interviewed on the project (by various interviewers) include: Sonia Allen, Sally Avery, Ben-Zion, Bernard Braddon, Ernest Briggs, Rhys Caparn, Elaine de Kooning, Herbert Ferber, Esther Gottlieb, Juliette Hays, Sidney Janis, Buffie Johnson, Jacob Kainen, Louis Kaufman, Jack Kufeld, Stanley Kunitz, Joseph Liss, Dorothy Miller, Betty Parsons, Wallace Putnam, Rebecca Reis, Maurice Roth, Sidney Schectman, Aaron Siskind, Joseph Solman, Hedda Sterne, Jack Tworkov, Esteban Vicente and Ed Weinstein. Each has been cataloged separately.

General
General
Originally recorded on 16 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 31 digital wav files. Duration is 21 hrs., 52 min.

Digital Content

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Transcript: Patrons must use microfilm copy.
Conditions Governing Use
Authorization to quote or reproduce for the purposes of publication requires written permission from Avis Berman. Contact Reference Services for more information.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Saturday review Title Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Abstract expressionism Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art critics -- Illinois -- Chicago Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art critics -- New York (State) -- New York Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art museum curators -- New York (State) -- New York Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art museum curators -- Illinois -- Chicago Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Adams, Ansel, 1902-1984 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Albers, Josef Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Albright, Ivan, 1897-1983 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Archipenko, Alexander, 1887-1964 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Arensberg, Walter, 1878-1954 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Arensberg, Louise S. (Louise Stevenson), 1879-1953 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Avery, Milton, 1885-1965 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Barr, Alfred H., Jr., 1902-1981 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Berenson, Bernard, 1865-1959 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Davis, Stuart, 1892-1964 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
De Kooning, Willem, 1904-1997 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ernst, Max, 1891-1976 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Duchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hofmann, Hans, 1880-1966 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kepes, Gyorgy, 1906-2001 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Klee, Paul, 1879-1940 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Léger, Fernand, 1881-1955 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mérida, Carlos, 1891-1984 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig, 1886-1969 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Moholy-Nagy, László, 1895-1946 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Newman, Barnett, 1905-1970 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Noguchi, Isamu, 1904-1988 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Paepcke, Walter Paul, 1896-1960 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Porter, Eliot, 1901-1990 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ray, Man, 1890-1976 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rich, Daniel Catton, 1904-1976 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Smith, David, 1906-1965 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stamos, Theodoros, 1922-1997 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stieglitz, Alfred, 1864-1946 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Still, Clyfford, 1904-1980 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tamayo, Rufino, 1899- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tobey, Mark Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tworkov, Jack Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Weston, Edward, 1886-1958 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art Institute of Chicago Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Black Mountain College (Black Mountain, N.C.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
First National Bank of Chicago -- Art collections Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Vassar College Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Katharine Kuh Gallery (Chicago, Ill.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mark Rothko and His Times Oral History Project Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/