Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Clown with a Black Wig

Artist:
Walt Kuhn (American, New York 1877–1949 White Plains, New York)
Date:
1930
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
40 1/8 × 30 1/8 in. (101.9 × 76.5 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
George A. Hearn Fund, 1956
Accession Number:
56.73
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 913
Renowned for his penetrating, sometimes even unnerving portraits of circus performers, Kuhn resisted most aspects of the European avant-garde throughout his career. Consequently, art critics often heralded his work as particularly "American." The sitter for this portrait is Albert Driscoll, who modeled for other works by Kuhn. Disguised by make-up and costume, Driscoll’s "real" identity is concealed from the viewer, while his inert seated presence runs counter to the physicality associated with clowning. Driscoll’s deadpan gaze, so contrary to circus joviality, is characteristic of Kuhn’s portrait painting generally.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): Walt Kuhn/ 1930
[Maynard Walker Gallery, New York, until 1956; sold to MMA]

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Three Centuries of American Painting," April 9–October 17, 1965, unnum. checklist.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "Great American Paintings from the Boston and Metropolitan Museums," November 30, 1970–January 10, 1971, no. 87 (as "Clown with Black Wig").

Saint Louis, Mo. City Art Museum. "Great American Paintings from the Boston and Metropolitan Museums," January 28–March 7, 1971, no. 87.

Seattle Art Museum. "Great American Paintings from the Boston and Metropolitan Museums," March 25–May 9, 1971, no. 87.

Fort Worth. Amon Carter Museum of American Art. "Walt Kuhn: A Classic Revival," August 6–September 10, 1978, brochure no. 2.

Omaha. Joslyn Art Museum. "Walt Kuhn: A Classic Revival," September 30–October 29, 1979, brochure no. 2.

Wichita Art Museum. "Walt Kuhn: A Classic Revival," November 18, 1978–January 6, 1979, brochure no. 2.

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. "Walt Kuhn: A Classic Revival," March 1–April 15, 1979, brochure no. 2.

New York. Whitney Museum of American Art. "Walt Kuhn: The Entertainers," January 21–April 5, 1987, unnum. brochure (as "Clown with Black Wig").

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "14 Americans," July 16, 1990–January 2, 1991, no catalogue.

New-York Historical Society. "Swing Time: Reginald Marsh and Thirties New York," June 21–September 2, 2013, unnumbered cat. (fig. 49).

Paul Bird. Fifty Paintings by Walt Kuhn. New York, 1940, unpaginated, pl. 11, calls it "Clown with Black Wig".

"Additions to the Collections." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 15 (October 1956), p. 41, ill. p. 43, as "Clown with Black Wig".

Robert Beverly Hale. "The American Moderns." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 16 (Summer 1957), ill. p. 24.

Henry Geldzahler. American Painting in the Twentieth Century. New York, 1965, pp. 81–82, ill., calls it "Clown with Black Wig".

Thomas N. Maytham. Great American Paintings from the Boston and Metropolitan Museums. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Seattle, 1970, p. 135, no. 87, ill. p. 136.

Philip Rhys Adams. Walt Kuhn, Painter: His Life and Work. Columbus, 1978, pp. 129, 146, 256, no. 257, pl. 61, calls it "Clown with Black Wig".

Richard Meyer. "Changing Partners: Richard Meyer on 'Reimagining Modernism' at the Met." Artforum (November 2015), ill. p. 143 (color, installation photo).



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