Wolf Kahn Biography

Wolf Kahn




The son of Stuttgart, Germany composer and conductor Emil Kahn and poet and harpist Nellie Budge Kahn, Wolf Kahn and his siblings, his older brother was painter Hans Peter Kahn, were raised in a prosperous household that encouraged pursuit of the arts. However, with the rise of Nazi Germany and anti-Semitism throughout Europe, Emil Kahn was removed from his position at the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra in 1933; not long after, Nellie died. Emil left for the U.S. in an attempt to find a safer place for his family.

Born in Stuttgart on October 4, 1927, Wolf Kahn immigrated to the United States by way of England in 1940. In 1945, he graduated from the High School of Music & Art in New York after which he spent time in the Navy. Under the GI Bill, he studied with renowned teacher and Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann, later becoming Hofmann's studio assistant. In 1950, he enrolled in the University of Chicago where he graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Having completed his degree in only one year, Kahn was determined to become a professional artist. He and other former Hofmann students established the Hansa Gallery, a cooperative gallery where Kahn had his first solo exhibition. In 1956, he joined the Grace Borgenicht Gallery, where he exhibited regularly until 1995. Kahn has received a Fulbright Scholarship, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Award in Art from the Academy of Arts and Letters.

Traveling extensively, he painted landscapes in Egypt, Greece, Hawaii, Italy, Kenya, Maine, Mexico, and New Mexico. He spent summers and autumns in Vermont on a hillside farm, which he and his wife, the painter Emily Mason owned.

The unique blend of Realism and formal discipline of Color Field painting sets the work of Wolf Kahn apart. Kahn is an artist who embodies a synthesis of artistic traits – the modern abstract training of Hans Hofmann, the palette of Matisse, Rothko's sweeping bands of color, and the atmospheric qualities of American impressionism. The fusion of color, spontaneity and representation has produced a rich and expressive body of work.

Wolf Kahn died on March 15, 2020 in New York, NY.

Much of this biography is courtesy of the Wolf Kahn's website. Here is a link to his website: Wolf Kahn.