Organizations* : NAWA
“Bob Kuhn is without peer. His work represents the best of wildlife art and has been described as having the ability to take its viewers into the very midst of nature’s secret places, almost into the minds of the animals themselves.” A Realist-Impressionist painter of animals, Kuhn was born in Buffalo, New York, and has been labeled by Wildlife Art as “one of the last direct descendants from the Golden Age of Illustration…(a period) that produced the most competent legion of realist painters this continent has ever known.”
Kuhn is one of the leading painters of animals shown in dramatic action. His ability to catch the presence of animals in motion sets him apart from the other contemporary painters of North American and African wildlife. In Profiles in American Art in 1982, Kuhn says, “I don’t know why I paint animals. All I know is when I was a very little boy, there was something about animals that grabbed hold of me. To me, the fun of painting animals is to be the stage manager, the arranger, the fellow who selects out the stuff that doesn’t abet the subject and the mood, and to bring in the things that would enhance the mood. Having the temerity or courage, having figured things out, to bend them or change them when the painting calls for it, is the final test of whether you’re functioning as a naturalist or a painter.”
After finishing high school, Kuhn studied commercial art for three years at the Pratt Institute. He worked steadily as an illustrator from 1940 to 1970, taking only a year and a half off to serve as a merchant seaman in World War II. Kuhn illustrated for such outdoor magazines as Field and Stream, True and Outdoor Life. He also designed illustrations for books and advertisements. In 1964, he started painting for the Remington Arms Company Game Art Calendar.
However, in 1970 he resigned from all of his commercial accounts in order to devote himself exclusively to wildlife painting. Since then, Kuhn has won awards and medals at such distinguished shows as the National Academy of Western Art and the Cowboy Hall of Fame Wildlife Art Show. In 2001, the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming held an unprecedented retrospective spanning Kuhn’s 60-year career.
Kuhn was influenced by Paul Branson, known as the “dean of animal artists,” and has in turn assisted many younger wildlife artists in their careers. He has studied animals on location all over North America and Africa.