Misch Kohn


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Printmaker. A versatile technician, he worked in a wide variety of print media, both intaglio and relief, and often employed color. Similarly, his style ranged from representational to abstract, although most of his mature work inhabited a middle ground where design and imagery freely interact. While some works reflect a light-hearted delight in life, during the Cold War and Vietnam War periods particularly, he created many ominous evocations of existential torment and calamity. By the late 1970s, his work had became more frequently abstract, or nearly so, and he often incorporated lettering and found objects into brightly patterned compositions, sometimes presented on handmade paper. Harris Kohn adopted a new first name while studying at the Herron School of Art (now Herron School of Art and Design of Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis), about fifty miles south of his birthplace in Kokomo. After receiving a BFA in 1939, he moved to New York for a few months before signing on with a federal art project in Chicago. In the mid-1940s, a sojourn in Mexico—where he made the acquaintance of its muralists and popular printmakers—pushed his development toward new levels of energy and monumentality. Virtuosic wood engravings first made his reputation in the early 1950s, but by the end of the decade he had come to prefer etching and aquatint techniques. In 1961 he numbered among the first artists invited to work at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, which renewed his interest in working on stone. He taught at the Illinois Institute of Technology for more than two decades before moving in 1972 to the San Francisco Bay Area to teach at California State University in Hayward. He retired to emeritus status in 1986 and died at his home in nearby Castro Valley.

Subjects: Art.

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