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Walt Kuhn, (born Oct. 27, 1880, New York, N.Y., U.S.—died July 13, 1949, White Plains, N.Y.), American painter instrumental in staging the Armory Show (New York City, 1913), the first exhibition of modern art in the United States.
Kuhn, a professional bicycle racer in the 1890s, moved in 1899 to San Francisco, where he worked as a cartoonist. His extensive travels in the western United States are reflected in works such as a series of cartoons on birds of the West and a series of 29 paintings entitled “An Imaginary History of the West” (1918–20). He later studied art informally in Paris, then contributed cartoons to Life, Puck, Judge, and newspapers in New York City. Kuhn was also a consulting architect, set designer, and art promoter. As secretary of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, he helped organize the Armory Show. After 1925 Kuhn devoted himself to painting, translating an early love of the circus and the theatre into simple and austere paintings of clowns, showgirls, and acrobats. They are bold and unpolished, with a slightly Spanish flavour; the figures are especially remarkable for dark penetrating eyes that are sometimes heavily outlined.