Wolf Kahn was more than just a great American landscape painter. He was also a mentor, teacher, art ambassador, husband, father and friend.
Wolf Kahn died on March 15, 2020, at the age of 92, in his Manhattan home, of congestive heart failure.
Kahn painted many landscapes around his summer home in Brattleboro, Vermont, but he was a consummate New Yorker. “The environment in which my paintings grow best is at Broadway and 12th Street.” he said. “I can see nature most clearly in my studio, undistracted by trees and skies. Art being emotion recollected in tranquility, I constantly find Nature too emotional, and Broadway very tranquil.”
The Brooklyn Rail newspaper, which has been reporting on the New York art scene since 1998, published several tributes to Wolf Kahn by members of the art community whose lives were touched by the artist.
Art historian and curator William Agee wrote, “I loved everything about Wolf: his dedication, and warmth, his generosity of spirit toward others (especially other artists), his humility, his openness, his transparency, indeed his long life itself, and not to mention his gift to us of a stunning and deep body of art.”
Gallery owner, Miles McEnery, met Wolf Kahn in the 1990s and they became close friends.
“I miss my friend Wolfie terribly, and this past spring has felt colder, darker, and lonelier without him.” McEnery wrote, “He leaves behind a rich legacy, however, in both his art and his family. We need only look to be reminded of his spirit and of the joy that he brought us all. Wolf often generously referred to me as his lifeline to the world. He had it backward. It was Wolf who was my lifeline. He inspired me, he changed the way I look at the world, he gave me a real sense of purpose, and he saved me from a life less ordinary.
Wolfie would say “Knock it off, Milo. You’re overdoing it.”
But again, I disagree. Isn’t that what great friends sometimes do?
Virginia Mecklenburg, an award-winning writer and senior curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, met Kahn at the start of her career. “When I first met Wolf, he became an instant friend, which surprised me since he was a celebrated artist and I a junior curator.” she wrote, “But on visits to New York (unfortunately never to the Brattleboro studio), we looked and talked; he was ever the mentor who guided thought, but never “instructed.” Through Wolf, I learned that real art has little to do with style, movement, or moment. Instead it’s about the human spirit and how, if we see beyond surface, we understand what matters in human relationships.”
Kahn, was born in 1927, in Germany, and fled his homeland on a “Kindertransport” train that saved Jewish children before the start of World War II. He was awarded the 2017 U.S. State Department’s International Medal of Arts. Kahn’s work has been part of the State Department’s Art in Embassies program, which loans work to diplomatic bureaus around the world.
His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Met, the Smithsonian, the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Boca Raton Museum of Art and other galleries and museums in North America.
Works of Wolf Kahn at Surovek Gallery
Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Wolf Kahn available at Surovek Gallery.
Miles McEnery. A Tribute to Wolf Kahn. The Brooklyn Rail. June 2020.
Virginia Mecklenburg. A Tribute to Wolf Kahn. The Brooklyn Rail. June 2020.
William Agee. A Tribute to Wolf Kahn. The Brooklyn Rail. June 2020.
Neil Genzlinger. Wolf Kahn, Who Painted Vibrant Landscapes, Is Dead at 92. The New York Times. March 24, 2020.