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Wolf Kahn

(b. 1927)


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(1927– ).

Painter and printmaker. Primarily a landscape painter, he renders impressions of nature in ravishing colors. His flattened space and painterly brushwork reflect the abstract expressionist context of his youth. A screen of trees or bushes seen against the sky or distant hills often provides a patterned foil for ornamental effects that recall, on a greatly magnified scale and with Matisse's chromatic accomplishments in mind, the tonalist work of Dwight William Tryon a century earlier. Born in Stuttgart, Kahn left Germany in 1939. After an interlude in England, he settled in New York the following year. There he studied with Hans Hofmann, who imbued in the young artist the desire to construct works of art balancing nature and abstract form. After more than two years with Hofmann, he enrolled at the University of Chicago, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1951. His characteristic style has grown richer but deviated little from its basic objectives since it came together after his return to New York. He has for many years also worked at a residence in Vermont. Kahn's extensive work in pastel is reflected in the subject matter of two books, Pastel Light (1983) and Wolf Kahn Pastels (2000), which share his working methods and aesthetic goals. In Wolf Kahn's America (2003), reproductions of his paintings from locales across the United States accompany his reminiscences and observations. He has also worked with lithography, usually in color, as well as intaglio processes. In Italy in 1957 he married Emily Mason. Their daughter Cecily Kahn also is a painter. A lifelong New Yorker with a second residence in Friendship, Maine, near Rockland, in 1981 she received a BFA degree from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. A member of American Abstract Artists, she paints bright and vigorous abstractions that combine constructivist geometry with biomorphic or irregularly formed elements. Wolf Kahn's brother Peter Kahn (1921–97) was a painter and graphic artist, as well as a typographer, book designer, and art historian. Also born in Germany, he taught at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge before moving permanently in 1969 to Ithaca, New York, where he served on the faculty of Cornell University.

Subjects: Art.


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