The genius of Bob Kuhn is his ability to lay bare the drama, the majesty, and the essential nobility of the animal kingdom. Few have done it better; none have done it with greater conviction
(Tom Davis, Wild Harvest, Sporting Classics and Wildlife Art Magazine, 1997, p. 16).
Bob Kuhn was fascinated by the natural world from an early age. His drawings of animals began with childhood visits to the Buffalo Zoo in upstate New York and this was followed by formal instruction at the Pratt Institute in New York from 1937 where he studied design, anatomy and life-drawing. Over the next thirty years, he became one of the most popular wildlife illustrators in America. Later, Kuhn began focusing on his depictions of animals in oil. His fascination with wild animals would later take him to Alaska and Africa on expeditions to observe the natural habitat of his subjects. In 1991 he won the Prix de West Award for his painting titled The Lair of the Cat. He is known for his meticulous observation of the natural world and his vivid portrayal of wildlife often capturing intense moments of action and drama. The following examples of Kuhn's work show his careful attention to detail, from muscle tension to an intrepid glance and his ability to transport the viewer into the mind of the animal and exemplify why he is considered one of the most influential wildlife artists of our time.
Kuhn wrote of the inspiration for the composition of Rear Guard, 'Elephants are great bluffers. Most of their menacing posturing is just that. Even when they come at you in a cloud of dust, they're apt to pull up short, shake their great ears, then trundle off with tail held high. The trouble is you can't be certain that the one bearing down on you knows of or abides by this aspect of elephant behavior. Thus, it's a good idea to figure out a line of retreat when you approach them, whatever your reason for so doing.' (op. cit., p. 136).