The process of making a painting was a lengthy one for Kuhn; he executed numerous preparatory drawings and sketches. However, after an idea was formulated, he would work directly from a specifically chosen model and complete the piece in a few days. Performer Resting of 1929 depicts a seated performer, one of Kuhn’s favored subjects. The performer, who is placed within a shallow space, turns away from the viewer to occupy his own separate world. As the title of the painting suggests, the figure is resting as he leans on the back of a chair.
Performer Resting was first exhibited at the Downtown Gallery in New York in 1929. After visiting the exhibition, Phillips purchased it, saying he "agree[d] with those who have long predicted that he [Kuhn] would be one of the really important American artists...." Phillips included this painting along with another early work Girl with Mirror in a 1932 exhibition at the museum. It was Kuhn's first solo Washington show. Phillips commented "Kuhn's rise to the front rank is evident in 'Performer Resting,'…."