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Born in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1927, Wolf Kahn immigrated to the United States by way of England in 1940. In 1945, he graduated from the High School of Music & Art in New York, after which he spent time in the Navy. Under the GI Bill, he studied with renowned teacher and Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann, later becoming Hofmann’s studio assistant. In 1950, he enrolled in the University of Chicago. He graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
After completing his degree in only one year, Kahn decided to return to being a full-time artist. He and other former Hofmann students established the Hansa Gallery, a cooperative gallery where Kahn had his first solo exhibition. In 1956, he joined the Grace Borgenicht Gallery, where he exhibited regularly until 1995. Kahn has received a Fulbright Scholarship, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, an Award in Art from the Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Medal of Arts from the U.S. State Department.
Traveling extensively, he has painted landscapes in Egypt, Greece, Hawaii, Italy, Kenya, Maine, Mexico, and New Mexico. He spends his summers and autumns in Vermont on a hillside farm, which he and his wife, the painter Emily Mason, have owned since 1968, but his primary residence is in New York City. They have two daughters, Cecily and Melany. Cecily Kahn is also an artist, and is married to the painter David Kapp.
The unique blend of Realism and formal discipline of Color Field painting sets the work of Wolf Kahn apart. Kahn is an artist who embodies a synthesis of artistic traits - the modern abstract training of Hans Hofmann, the palette of Matisse, Rothko’s sweeping bands of color, the atmospheric qualities of American Impressionism. The fusion of color, spontaneity and representation has produced a rich and expressive body of work.
Wolf Kahn regularly exhibits at galleries and museums across North America. His work may be found in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; The Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, among other institutions.
Wolf Kahn died March 15, 2020, in New York, NY.
The Painting Center presents Cultivate Your Own Garden, an exhibition of twelve contemporary artists: Cecile Chong, Elisabeth Condon, Daniel Dallmann, Carlo D’Anselmi, Lois Dodd, Ashley Garrett, Xico Greenwald, Eric Holzman, Wolf Kahn, Judith Linhares, Carol March and Ruth Miller on view through March 24th.
The title for the show comes from the Voltaire novel Candide (1759) and refers to the idea of taking care of one’s own needs before taking care of others’. The idea of connecting to nature despite the cacophony of the world around us seems apt at this moment in history. Curators Patricia Spergel and Shazzi Thomas selected artists for this exhibition who reference garden and landscape in their work in a variety of ways – traditional observational painting, works with subtle satirical and political commentary and paintings that lean towards abstraction. What all these paintings have in common is a love for nature and paint, and a clear, focused approach to transmitting that passion.
“Wolf Kahn” at Ameringer McEnery Yohe (through December 23): This week is the last chance to catch “Wolf Kahn,” an exhibition of paintings that push the limits of an abstract language that the American artist has been developing for over seventy years. The exhibition, at Chelsea’s Ameringer McEnery Yohe, comprises fifty-six oil landscapes that were all made within the past two years—a considerable testament to the vitality of Kahn’s vision and practice. These new paintings exude Kahn’s trademark high-pitched color, employed within fields of flittering, calligraphic textures that that seem to remove the pictures, more so than ever before in his mature work, from the natural world. This comprehensive survey of Kahn’s most recent direction, which closes on Saturday, is not to be missed.
Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe will present “Wolf Kahn,” an exhibition of recent paintings celebrating the artist’s 90th birthday.
Wolf Kahn, who studied under renowned Abstract Expressionist artist Hans Hofmann, will show work made during the past two years that continue his exploration of color. The landscapes, which are simultaneously descriptive and abstract, depict the changing of the seasons with quick, flickering brushstrokes and delineated bands of vivid hues. Kahn, whose work blends realism and the formal discipline of Color Field painting, embodies in his paintings the fusion of color, spontaneity and representation.
by Kevin O'Connor
BRATTLEBORO — Artist Wolf Kahn recalls picking up this town’s newspaper 40 years ago to see himself introduced to Vermonters through a particularly top-dollar interview.
The first question was, ‘How many paintings do you do a year?’ I said maybe 100. The second was, ‘How much do you charge?’ I said a couple of hundred bucks. The next time I had to have my barn reshingled, all of a sudden the price went up.”
Kahn nevertheless thinks highly of his neighbors, be they the farmers who live next door or their cattle that graze his land.
I’ve gotten to feel like I’m no longer just a flatlander — I belong here.”
Locals say that’s an understatement.
BRATTLEBORO — Vermont artist Wolf Kahn has reaped many awards in a life as colorful as his work, but the 89-year-old just traveled to Washington, D.C., to receive his first medal. “It’s big and heavy, with a blue ribbon you can put around your neck,” he says. “I thought I was getting the Medal of Freedom the president gave to the vice president.”
Although Kahn didn’t win the same accolade President Barack Obama surprised Joe Biden with on Thursday, the master of vibrant oil paint and pastels received a hefty honor the same day: the U.S. State Department’s International Medal of Arts.
The Medal of Arts award was initiated by Art in Embassies in 2013 to formally acknowledge artists who have played an exemplary role in advancing the U.S. Department of State's mission of promoting cultural diplomacy.
by Cate McQuaid
We know painter Wolf Kahn for radiant colors and landscapes that are more about formal and tonal relationships than they are about place. But in the 1960s, Kahn dwelt in the shadows. His paintings from that period make up the last exhibition at modernist gallery ACME Fine Art, closing its doors after 15 years. Owners Jim Bennette and David Cowan will continue their art-consulting business.
ACME Fine Art is proud to announce the gallery’s Fall exhibition: WOLF KAHN: EARLY WORK. The exhibition will focus on a single decade of Kahn’s early career, the 1960s. This was an important decade in which Kahn’s work garnered the critical acclaim that helped establish his trajectory towards becoming one of America’s favorite contemporary landscape painters. The exhibition will feature fifteen works—fourteen oil paintings and one pastel—that demonstrate Kahn’s artistic arc during this pivotal decade. Many of the canvases have not been exhibited since the year that they were created. The show will open on Friday, 30 September, and run through 26 November, with an opening reception held Friday, 7 October from 6:00 to 8:00 in the evening.
In a recent review of Maureen Gallace’s current exhibition at 303 Gallery by Barry Schwabsky, the subject of whether painting a landscape is relevant in today’s era was brought up. Gallace’s landscapes are certainly an example of how a landscape can be far more than just an aesthetic rendering of a natural scene. They present moments in time that exhibit specific natural and subconscious occurrences. In a way, her handling of light and movement of natural elements makes her a contemporary Impressionist painter.
Octogenarian painter Wolf Kahn—who was among the second generation of the New York School artists—continues to paint every day. Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe celebrates his recent work with a solo exhibition, featuring the luminous scenes of barns, rivers, meadows, and wooded New England landscapes for which the much-lauded artist is known.
Brattleboro, VT -- Wolf Kahn views himself as a liberator. The contemporary American artist said he aims to bring "landscape painting up to date" by liberating color, being free in his application and just generally trying to be "more modern than most landscape painters are."
And this message of free expression is the basis of a lecture titled "Control and Letting Go," which he plans to deliver at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center at 7 p.m. today. A book and memorabilia signing will follow. Kahn told the Reformer he typically gives a lecture at the museum once a year and always intends to give guests their money's worth. Reservations are $10 for the general public, $5 for BMAC members, and can be made by calling 802-257-0124, ext. 101, or visiting www.brattleboromuseum.org to reserve online.
Thanks to Wolf Kahn, the hills, forests, farms, and barns of southern Vermont may be seen in many of the world's finest art galleries, museums, and private collections. For nearly 50 years the beloved landscape painter, a leading figure in contemporary American art, has spent summers on a hillside farm in West Brattleboro. He has traveled the back roads and unmarked lanes of Windham County with pastels and sketchbook in tow, depicting the landscape in a signature style that hovers between abstraction and figuration. On Saturday, October 11 at 7 p.m., a week after his 87th birthday, Kahn will give a talk entitled "Control and Letting Go" at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC). Reservations are $10 for the general public, $5 for BMAC members. Call 802-257-0124, ext. 101 or visit www.brattleboromuseum.org to reserve online. A book and memorabilia signing will follow.
The earliest painting on view in Wolf Kahn: Six Decades is a large landscape-derived abstraction from 1960 titled “Into a Clearing.” It features a loose, pulsing welter of brushstrokes that coalesce into lush zones of breathing, blooming color. “Weaving Gray and Yellow,” another oil on canvas completed fifty-four years later, and also on display in “Six Decades” shows a similar gestural approach but with added notes of linearity and a little less painterly vapor. Consistently in love with landscape — and the idea of landscape as an abstraction — Wolf Kahn has lovingly built a very vivid and beautiful oeuvre since first exhibiting his paintings at the Hansa Gallery, one of New York’s first co-op galleries, nearly sixty years ago.
At 86, Wolf Kahn is still a firecracker. The painter — who has spent the majority of his life in New York, and who is known for vibrantly colored landscapes and nature scenes — is the subject of a six-decade retrospective on view at Ameringer McEnery Yohe through May 31. “The earlier the painting is, the better it seems to me to be,” Kahn deadpanned, thinking back to some of the canvases he produced in the early ’60s. “I think I’ve gone downhill ever since.” On a more serious note, he’s proud of himself for not resting on his laurels: “Here I am, still trying to do things that I don’t know how to do, strike out in new directions. I think that’s very healthy, and I consider myself fortunate.”
Planning and Spontaneity in Art A Lecture by Wolf Kahn at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center 7 October 2012 Wolf Kahn is a leading figure in American art. His rich, expressive body of work represents a synthesis of his modern abstract training with Hans Hofmann, the palette of Matisse, Rothko’s sweeping bands of color, and the atmospheric qualities of American Impressionism. Kahn has received many honors and awards, and his work is held in the collections of major museums worldwide.
One usually associates the name of Wolf Kahn with New England landscapes, but his economically painterly treatment suits the urban fabric as ably. Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe has put together a show of his New York images to prove it.
Wolf Kahn spends much of his summer sketching in pastel in and around Brattleboro, Vermont, later refining the sketches in his hilltop studio. BMAC is honored to present a portion of his summer 2011 artistic production.
Pastel is Kahn’s generative medium. I use the term generative not to imply that his pastels are sketches for paintings — though they may be. Rather, the mark a pastel stick makes, the way its powder sits on the page, its texture, its effects are the genesis of his painting style. Kahn has often referred to his painting technique as scrubbing: he makes dry, quick lines, atop thinly layered veils of color, essentially transferring his touch with pastel to paint. His virtuosic handling of the medium he calls “dust on butterfly wings” informs and expands all his artistic endeavors.
Be among the first to view the new exhibit Wolf Kahn: Brattleboro Pastels, featuring new work created this summer in southern Vermont by one of America’s most influential and admired landscape artists. Kahn will be on hand to sign books, limited-edition prints, catalogues, posters, and more. Cash bar and light refreshments provided.