Wolf Kahn will be turning 92 in October. He is dealing with macular degeneration, and can no longer read or drive, but he can still paint and work with pastels.
“The older I get,” he says, “the more yellow a yellow becomes, the bluer a blue becomes, and that gives me hope for the future.”
Kahn still paints almost every day. He and his wife, artist Emily Mason, divide their time between their home in New York and their summer-through-fall studios in Vermont.
He’s been offered, and has declined, teaching positions at such prestigious schools as Berkley, Queens College and Princeton, but has chosen not to teach because, he says, “Getting a regular check is bad for an artist. A little bit of insecurity helps you in your work.” He does, however, lecture at universities and museums, often giving his Six Good Reasons Not to Paint a Landscape talk, in which he explains why people become artists, despite the apparent impracticality of art as a career.
Wolf Kahn’s Career as an Artist
Kahn has been painting and drawing since the age of five. He was born to a Jewish family in Stuttgart, Germany in 1927. Kahn’s father was a composer and the conductor of the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra. Kahn painted the orchestra’s musicians as well as the stormtroopers that marched past his family’s home after Hitler came to power. His grandmother arranged for his escape to England through Kindertransport and, in 1940, Kahn was reunited with his father and siblings in New York. Sadly, his grandmother remained in Germany and was killed in a concentration camp.
Kahn says that the experience made him resilient and gave him ‘antennae’ that other people might not have.
After spending a year in the U.S. Navy, Kahn studied with Hans Hoffman and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Chicago in 1951.
Kahn has published more than a dozen books. Wolf Kahn’s America is a look at his travels and the works he created throughout the U.S., with an introduction by John Updike.
He calls his book about pastels, “A how-to book with metaphysical pretensions.”
Kahn has the unique ability to use bold, vibrant colors and turn them into serene landscapes.
Recently, Kahn says, he has been using more subtle and silver shades. A recent exhibit at the Miles McEnery Gallery in New York, showcased new works, as well as those from the 1960s.
Wolf Kahn regularly exhibits at galleries and museums across North America. His work can be found in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Hirshhorn Museum and the National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Wolf Kahn Oil Paintings at the Surovek Gallery
Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Wolf Kahn, or any of the other fine art available at Surovek Gallery.
Kevin O’Connor. International Medal of Arts Winner Turns 90; Wolf Kahn shows his true colors. The Berkshire Eagle. June 20, 2017.
Tobias Grey. The Structure of Abstraction.The Wall Street Journal. February 15, 2019.
Wolf Kahn, The Per Contra Interview with Miriam N. Kotzin.