Wolf Kahn


Wolf Kahn Biography

German, b. 1927

Wolf Kahn is one of the most important colorists working in America today. Born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1927, Wolf Kahn—the son of a noted Jewish musician—immigrated to the United States by way of England in 1940 through the Kindertransport. In 1945, he graduated from the High School of Music and Art in New York after which he spent time in the Navy. Under the GI Bill, he studied with the well-known teacher and abstract expressionist, Hans Hofmann, becoming Hofmann's studio assistant. In 1950, he enrolled in the University of Chicago as part of the Hutchins Chicago Plan, graduating after only eight months.
After a time of travel across America and working as a lumberjack in Oregon, Kahn returned to New York City. Kahn was determined to become a professional artist. He and other former Hofmann students established The Hansa (meaning "guild"), a cooperative gallery where he had his first one man show. In 1956, he joined the Grace Borgenicht Gallery where he exhibited regularly until 1995. In 1956, Kahn met Emily Mason and they married the next year in 1957. 1957 was also the year that Kahn had his first group exhibition at a major museum as part of the New York School: The Second Generation at the Jewish Museum. This was soon followed by Young America 1960: 30 Painters under 36 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and that same year Kahn began teaching at the University of California, Berkeley.
Today Kahn’s works can be found in the permanent collections of most major art museums in the United States including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Whitney Museum of America Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, among others. In addition, Kahn’s works regularly form the centrepiece of numerous group exhibitions and solo shows in galleries and museums throughout the United States and abroad.
Kahn’s brilliance has been recognised throughout his life, and this is evinced by the numerous accolades he has received. In 1962 he became a Fulbright Scholar and was able to use the funds for work in Italy. Four years later, he received the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. He received an Award in Art from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1979 and has received lifetime achievement awards and honorary degrees in the last two decades. He is a member of the National Academy of Design, as well as the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been appointed to the New York City Art Commission.
Kahn travels extensively, he has painted landscapes in a number of locations such as Maine, Mexico, Italy, Greece, Kenya, New Mexico, Namibia, Hawai’i, and Egypt. He spends his summers and autumns in West Brattleboro, VT on a hillside farm, which he and his wife have owned since 1968. They have two daughters, Cecily and Melany. Cecily Kahn is also a painter, and she is married to the painter David Kapp.

Wolf Kahn expert, James Yohe has said that,

“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 and 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.”

1966,  John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship
1962,  Fulbright Scholarship to Italy
1950-51,  University of Chicago, Bachelor of Arts, Chicago
1947,  Studied under Hans Hofmann at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Art
1946,  New School, studied under Stuart Davis
1945, High School of Art and Music, New York

2016, Spring Group Exhibition, Cavalier Gallery, New York, NY
2014, Annual Small Works Exhibition, Cavalier Gallery, New York, NY
2010, Wolf Kahn – Pastels, Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, GA
2006, Wolf Kahn’s Barns, Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, NC
2004, The Artist’s Eye: Wolf Kahn as a Curator, National Academy of Design Museum, New York, NY
1999, Wolf Kahn: Southern Landscapes, Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, GA
1998, Centennial Exhibition, Academy of Arts & Letters, New York, NY
1994, Art 25, Basel, Switzerland
1993, Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain, Paris
1985, The Janss Collection, San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA
1984, Solo Exhibition
Wolf Kahn: Landscapes, San Diego Museum of Art, San Deigo, CA
1979, Recent Acquisitions
Hans Hofmann as a Teacher, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
1979, American Places, Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.
1972, New England Art, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston Chrysler Museum, Boston, MA
1971–72, Americans in Europe, American Federation of the Arts, New York, NY
1964, Solo Exhibition, Cincinnati Museum of Art, Cincinnati, OH
1963, Group Exhibition, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
1962, Solo Exhibition* Dallas Museum of Contemporary Art, Dallas, TX
1960, Young America 1960: 30 Painters under 36, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
1957, The New York School: The Second Generation, The Jewish Museum, New York, NY

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
The Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
The Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles
The Brooklyn Museum, New York
The Jewish Museum, New York
Museum of Fine Art, Houston, TX
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX

American Express, New York
Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago
Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Chase Manhattan Bank, New York
Ernest and Young, New York
Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP, New York
The Rockefeller Group, New York
US Government, Number One Observatory Circle, Washington, D.C.

National Board of the College Art Association, New York
National Academy of Design, board member, New York
American Academy and Institute of Arts & Letters, New York
Marlboro College, Member, Board of Trustees, Marlboro, VT
Brattleboro Museum, Honorary Trustee, Brattleboro, VT

2006, Lifetime Achievement Award, Wheaton College
2000, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, Wheaton College
1998, Lifetime Achievement Award, Vermont Council of the Arts
1979, Award in Art, American Academy of Arts and Letters
1966, John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship
1962, Fulbright Scholar

2015, McAgee, William C. Wolf Kahn. (New York)
2013, Kahn, Wolf, and Nicholas Delbanco. Wolf Kahn. (New York)
2011, Spring, Justin, Karen Wilkin, and Louis Finkelstein. Wolf Kahn. (New York: Abrams)
2010, Kahn, Wolf, and Chrinstina Kee. Wolf Kahn: Color & Consequence. (New York)
2010, Kahn, Wolf. Wolf Kahn. (Montreal: Galerie De Bellefeuille,)
2007, Kahn, Wolf, and Karen Wilkin. Wolf Kahn: Sizing up. (New York, NY)
2004, Kahn, Wolf, and Elizabeth Frank. Wolf Kahn. (New York)
2003, Kahn, Wolf and John Updike, Wolf Kahn’s America: An Artist’s Travels. (New York: Abrams)
2002, Kahn, Wolf, and David Cohen. Wolf Kahn: March 8-27, 2002. (New York: Beadleston Gallery)
2002, Wolf Kahn. (New York: Beadleston Gallery)
1999, Gruber, Richard J., and Wolf Kahn. Wolf Kahn: Painting the South. (Augusta, GA: Morris Museum of Art)
1996, Spring, Justin, and Louis Finkelstein. Wolf Kahn. (New York: Harry N. Abrams)
1993, Kahn, Wolf. Wolf Kahn. (Naples, FL: Philharmonic Center for the Arts)
1993, Kahn, Wolf. Wolf Kahn. (Boston: Thomas Segal Gallery)
1991, Kahn, Wolf, and Robert P. Conway. Wolf Kahn. (New York: Associated American Artists)
1989, Kahn, Wolf. Wolf Kahn: New Work, 1987–1989. (New York: Grace Borgenicht Gallery)
1988, Kahn, Wolf. Wolf Kahn: New Landscapes. (Santa Fe, NM: Gerald Peters Gallery)
1987, Kahn, Wolf, and Cynthia Goodman. Wolf Kahn: Paintings. (New York: Gallery)
1983, Kahn, Wolf. Wolf Kahn: Landscapes. (San Diego: San Diego Museum of Art)
1980, Kahn, Wolf. Wolf Kahn. (London: The Galleries)
1971, Kahn, Wolf. Wolf Kahn. (New York: Grace Borgenicht Gallery)