Wolf Kahn


Kahn is a German-born American painter. He is known for his combination of realism and Color Field, and known to work in Pastel and Oil paint. He studied under Hans Hofmann, and also graduated from the University of Chicago. Kahn is a resident of both New York City and, during the summer and autumn, West Brattleboro, Vermont.

He was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1927. In 1939, at the age of 12 he fled Germany for England and in 1940 moved to the United States of America. He attended the High School of Music and Art in New York City and graduated in 1945. Under the GI Bill, he was able to continue his studies with abstract expressionist Hans Hofmann at the Hans Hofmann School. He became Hofmann’s studio assistant. He enrolled for a degree from the University of Chicago in 1950 and completed this in only one year, receiving a Bachelor's Degree in 1951.

Influenced by Hofmann's practice of using nature as the starting point for a painting, Kahn's work in oils and pastels encompasses both pictorial landscape and painterly abstraction.  Converging color and light to create atmospheric and sensual pictorial fields, his painting evoke the ethereal world of nature even when they are non-representational. Although they are a departure from Hofmann's "explosive" compositions, Kahn's paintings incorporate many of Hofmann's principles of chromatic tension and movement.  Often juxtaposing saturated magentas, pinks, and oranges with cool, muted pastels, Kahn achieves a balance that transports the viewer into his tranquil world.

During his lifetime, Kahn has received honors such as the Fulbright in 1962, and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship from 1966-1967. As one of the leading representational painter to have his roots in the innovations of Abstract Expressionism, his works are represented in most major museum and university collections in America. Kahn became a member of the National Academy of Design in 1980 and was elected to the Board in 1982.  He also served as a member of the National Board of the College Art Association from 1980-1985 and became elected to membership in the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1984.

His wife Emily Mason is also a painter. They have two daughters, Cecily and Melany. Cecily Kahn is a painter, married to the painter David Kapp.

Ameringer & Yohe, his gallery, states (in the biography on his official website) "The unique blend of Realism and the formal discipline of Color Field painting sets the work of Wolf Kahn apart. Kahn is an artist who embodies the synthesis of his modern abstract training with Hans Hofmann, with the palette of Matisse, Rothko's sweeping bands of color, and the atmospheric qualities of American Impressionism. It is precisely this fusion of color, spontaneity and representation that has produced such a rich and expressive body of work."