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Lot 86: Walt Kuhn (1877-1949) American painter
29 October 2016
Wells, ME, USA
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Description: Walt Kuhn (1877-1949) American painter and an organizer of the famous Armory Show of 1913, which was America's first large-scale introduction to European Modernism. In 1925, Kuhn almost died from a duodenal ulcer. Following an arduous recovery, he became an instructor at the Art Students League of New York. In 1933, the aging artist organized his first retrospective. During these years, he began to question his earlier allegiance to European Modernism. On a 1931 trip to Europe with Marie and W. Averell Harriman, his staunchest supporters, he declined to join the Harrimans on their visits to the studios of Picasso, Georges Braque, and Fernand L_ger. Yet neither did he want to align himself with the anti-Modernist camp of Regionalists like Thomas Hart Benton and politically-minded social realists. In the art politics of the day, Kuhn was caught between two extremes. By the 1940s, Kuhn_s behavior began to take on unsound characteristics. He became increasingly irascible and distant from old friends. When the Ringling Brothers Circus was in town, he attended night after night. He also became frustrated by the lack of attention his own work was receiving and was particularly strident about the Museum of Modern Art's support of abstraction and neglect of American art in the postwar period. In 1948, he was institutionalized, and on July 13, 1949, he died suddenly from a perforated ulcer. Offered here are two letters he wrote on August 4, 1925, from Salzburg, Austria. Both letters are on a single sheet, his retained copies, written and signed by him. One one side he writes to the banking firm firm of Morgan, Harjes & Co., saying that he will be travelling to London in a few weeks, requests that his account be transferred to Morgan in London. On the other side, same date, he writes to the local water department in Maine. Says they will be travelling in Europe for the summer, they have closed their place in Ogunquit [Maine], disconnected the water pipes, will use no water therefore no water bill to pay. The picture showing here is NOT included.
Condition Report: VG