Skip to main content

WALTER E. KUHLMAN (1918-2009), Oil on Canvas, 1948, 38” x 32”, Signed verso (more)

WALTER E. KUHLMAN (1918-2009), Monotype, 1988, 8.5″ x 10.25″ (more)

Walter Kuhlman

Born in 1918 in Minnesota, Walter Kuhlman would grow up to be a core member of the San Francisco school of Abstract Expressionism. He began his studies at the St. Paul School of Art, studying with Cameron Booth and painting landscapes that combined the expressionist handling of the fauves with a dark melancholy that would later reappear in many abstract works of the 1950s. After a brief stint in the U.S. Navy as a medical illustrator, Kuhlman enrolled and finished his schooling at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

In late 1940s-early 1950s Kuhlman was painting using the central themes of the San Francisco School: the feeling of expansion and inexorable centrifugal movement, characteristic of the work of Clifford Still. He grew to develop his signature style and affinity for color field painting much like Rothko, although Kuhlman’s handling of paint was more lush and complex. Later, as the 1950s progressed and into the early 1960s, he would introduce more cryptic imagery, and also becoming increasingly dark and enigmatic. He taught at various universities such as Stanford University and Santa Clara University.

Selected Collections

The Oakland Museum
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
The M.H. de Young Memorial Museum
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Smithsonian Museum of Art
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
British Museum
Cleveland Museum of Art
Phillips Collection
Worcester Museum of Art
Menil Collection

Selected Solo Exhibitions

1940 Walker Art Center
1942 Berkshire Art Museum
1943 La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art
1944 Santa Barbara Museum of Art
1956, 64 California Palace of the Legion of Honor
1969 de Saisset Museum, Santa Clara University
1988 Sonoma State University

Selected Group Exhibitions

1939 New York’s World Fair
1948 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
1958 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
1958 the Cantor Center for Visual Art, Stanford University
1958 Virginia Museum of Art
1956, 60 California Palace of the Legion of Honor
1960 the Oakland Museum
1964 Santa Fe Museum of Fine Arts
1976 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
1999 George Krevsky Gallery
2001 Worcester Art Museum