Alice Karle Appraisal
Fine & Decorative Art
53.25 x 69 inches
Born in Germany in 1927, Wolf Kahn emigrated to America in 1940. The subject painting is an oil on canvas of a tree-lined hillside in winter, in the diffuse early light of daybreak. Kahn was a student of Hans Hoffman, a pivotal figure in the development of abstract expressionism in America, both as an artist and as a teacher. Kahn would later serve as a studio assistant to Hans Hoffman.
Wolf Kahn recounts his time with Hoffmann: “We who studied with (Hans) Hofmann felt ourselves to be the bearers of a more profound message, one better suited to give content and weight to the calling of ‘artist.’ We felt we were learning the essence of modernism, art stripped of everything extraneous. What remained was its esthetic/philosophical foundation, its raison d’être.”
Kahn is a colorist, carefully balancing color with a simplified geometric construction of landscape. His work is impressionist in its sources, but in a manner informed by modern abstraction, particularly the color field paintings of Mark Rothko, and the work of Milton Avery.
Early work consisted of still life and figure studies clearly showing the influence of Hans Hoffmann. In his mature style Kahn has created unpopulated landscapes in a dynamic purity of light, atmosphere, color, and composition. Frequently, the subject matter is drawn from the landscape surrounding the farm in Vermont, where Kahn resides.
An important figure in the second generation of abstract expressionist artists, Kahn has had numerous solo exhibitions including the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. Wolf Kahn was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1966-67). His work is included in the collections of a number of important institutions, including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; 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.