Top Man depicts trapeze artist Vittorio Falconi. As the "top man," Falconi choreographed and directed the performance. During the act, he hung by his knees from the trapeze and caught the other performers as they left the fly bar. Portrayed by Kuhn in the costume of his trade, he stands on a bare floor, exhibiting his muscular arms, large well-developed hands, and monumental chest-the physical attributes of his profession. His pensive expression conveys the intellectual aspects of his artistry. Kuhn considered the painting one of his "best to date."
Kuhn was associated with "The Eight," a group of artists including John Sloan and George Luks, who rebelled against the American art establishment. In 1913, he helped organize the group's Armory Show, which introduced modern European art to a new audience in America.