A Finding Aid to the Katharine Kuh Papers,
1875-1994
, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.kuhkath
Creators:
Kuh, Katharine
Dates:
1875-1994
bulk 1930-1994
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
12.1 Linear Feet
Repository:
The papers of art historian, dealer, critic, and curator Katharine Kuh measure 12.1 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
Scope and Content Note
The papers of art historian, dealer, critic, and curator Katharine Kuh measure 12.1 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.

Arrangement
Arrangement
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)

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
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.

Administration
Alternative Forms Available
Portions of this collection are available on 35mm microfilm reels 265, 267, 2225-2227, and 2288 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. 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.
Processing Information
Individual accessions were minimally processed and microfilmed on reels 265, 267, 2225-2227, and 2288. Previously microfilmed and unmicrofilmed portions were merged, arranged, and described by Jean Fitzgerald in August 2008 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Author
Jean Fitzgerald
Sponsor
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
Provenance
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.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Katharine Kuh papers, 1875-1994, bulk 1930-1994. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Restrictions on Access
Authorization to quote, publish or reproduce requires written permission until 2019. Contact the Archives of American Art Reference Services department for additional information.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Katharine Kuh papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Illustrated letters Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Resumes Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Travel diaries Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Minutes Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Calendars Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Visitors' books Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Paintings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Awards Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Abstract -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Collages Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, American Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art festivals Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lithographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Prints Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wills Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Watercolors Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Poetry Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lecture notes Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women museum curators -- Illinois -- Chicago Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lectures Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women art critics -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Authors -- Illinois -- Chicago Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Modern -- 20th century -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art galleries, Commercial -- Illinois -- Chicago Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sales records Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women art historians -- Illinois -- Chicago Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women art dealers -- Illinois -- Chicago Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women art dealers -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women art critics -- Illinois -- Chicago Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Johns, Jasper, 1930- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Guggenheim, Peggy, 1898- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Feitelson, Lorser, 1898-1978 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Falkenstein, Claire, 1908-1997 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Davis, Stuart, 1892-1964 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Elizabeth II, Queen of Great Britain, 1926- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Motherwell, Robert Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Moholy-Nagy, László, 1895-1946 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Millier, Arthur, 1893- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig, 1886-1969 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
O'Higgins, Pablo, 1904- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Nutting, Myron Chester, 1890-1972 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Nutting, Muriel Leone Tyler, b. 1892 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mérida, Carlos, 1891-1984 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Perkins, Frances Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ozbekhan, Hasan, 1921-2007 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Orozco, José Clemente, 1883-1949 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Calder, Alexander, 1898-1976 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Arensberg, Louise S. (Louise Stevenson), 1879-1953 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rich, Daniel Catton, 1904-1976 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ray, Man, 1890-1976 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Biddle, George, 1885-1973 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pollack, Peter, 1909-1978 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Seligmann, Kurt, 1900-1962 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Shackelford, Shelby Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sandberg, Carl Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Putnam, Wallace, 1899-1989 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sterne, Hedda, 1916- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Spaeth, Otto, d. 1966 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tobey, Mark Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Winston, Harry Lewis Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Barnet, Will, 1911- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Still, Clyfford, 1904- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tanning, Dorothea, 1910-2012 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Woolf, Olga Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Young, Victor Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Goto, Joseph, 1920- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Golub, Leon, 1922-2004 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Graves, Robert, 1895-1985 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Grabe, Klaus Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Giacometti, Alberto, 1901-1966 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Friendly, Fred W. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hirshhorn, Joseph Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hayter, Stanley William, 1901-1988 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hélion, Jean, 1904-1987 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hofmann, Hans, 1880-1966 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Barr, Alfred H., Jr., 1902-1981 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hare, Denise Browne Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hare, David, 1917- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kandinsky, Wassily, 1866-1944 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Katharine Kuh Gallery (Chicago, Ill.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kepes, Gyorgy, 1906-2001 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kepes, Juliet Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Inverarity, Robert Bruce, 1909-1999 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Johnson, Philip, 1906-2005 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Johnson, Ray, 1927- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Le Corbusier, 1887-1965 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lundeberg, Helen, 1908-1999 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lye, Len, 1901-1980 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Léger, Fernand, 1881-1955 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Klee, Paul, 1879-1940 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kline, Franz, 1910-1962 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stevenson, Adlai E. (Adlai Ewing), 1900-1965 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Knox, Seymour H., 1898-1990 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art Institute of Chicago -- Faculty Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Archipenko, Alexander, 1887-1964 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Albright-Knox Art Gallery Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Albright, Ivan, 1897-1983 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Albers, Josef Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Adams, Ansel, 1902-1984 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Biennale di Venezia Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Guston, Philip, 1913-1980 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Arp, Jean, 1887-1966 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Arensberg, Walter, 1878-1954 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cornell, Joseph Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cox, Richard Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chavez Morado, José, 1909-2002 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chermayeff, Serge, 1900- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Campoli, Cosmo Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chagall, Marc, 1887- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Breuer, Marcel, 1902- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ernst, Jimmy, 1920-1984 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dubuffet, Jean, 1901- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Duchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
De Kooning, Willem, 1904- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dickinson, Edwin Walter, 1891- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Day, Worden, 1916-1986 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

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