American Masterpieces from Dryads Green Gallery
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Autumn Meadow IV  brought $28,000  in 2008
Curator's Comments: We first spoke with Wolf Kahn after a talk at the National Academy of
Design, having been introduced by his close friend Annette Blaugrund, then NAD curator. Kahn was
speaking on a small work by Albert Pinkham Ryder--which may seem strange--but the work, a
swirling mass of black and white called "The Storm," clearly had meaning for Kahn--who had a deep
apprehension of Ryder's imagination. We remember that Kahn used the expression that "Nature
makes color," not to signify that Nature acts as an artist coloring the world with its hues--but in a
deeper sense connected to his own colorism--that color is the expression of  inherent natural process.
And Kahn has said that his master, Hans Hoffman, "encouraged students to regard color as an
independent entity," and he added,  which I still do." Much of this can be seen in "The Cornfield at
Dusk," where color defies the eye of the observer by continually shifting into itself, as greens, blues,
rose tints and dominant yellows seem to open and close on the canvas itself. We make no joke when
we say that this is what SONY aimed at but never got--"living color." Our screen image barely
suggests the saraband of green hues within the yellow cornfield. We show as well a closely related
painting by Kahn, The North Pasture, which exemplifies the same dynamic--a vision that places him
well within the American landscape tradition--and perhaps as its ultimate progenitor. Here Kahn
shows us how the coming late storm gives rise to the vibrant aquamarine hues of the pasture and its
fences--and a gate that pulls the eye into expanding layers of colors. Kahn's study of Kant's
Prolegomena on Beauty, which he says "really affirmed my own idea of absolute beauty," is another
element infusing his colorism, and is at work in his remark that "when I'm painting a tree, if I start
thinking of a branch and I paint it as a branch, it doesn't become nearly as good as if I paint it as a
brush stroke." The integrity of the artistic process makes creation superior to description. This is  
why we see Kahn as standing at the end of the great landscape tradition rooted in luminism. When
Kahn was asked, "There's something about landscape painting that has enabled you to attach yourself
to it," he replied: "I never became an abstract painter because I love to draw, I love to represent."
Do you mean, his questioner continued, "the landscape reference asserted itself in the context of
abstraction," and Kahn replied brilliantly: "How about abstraction asserting itself in the context of
landscape?
"
Wolf Kahn ca. 1988
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Artist Name: Wolf Kahn
Artist Dates: (B.) 1927
Title: The Cornfield at Dusk
Date:             1983
Medium:       Oil on Canvas
Signature:     Lower Ctr
Provenance:  Private Owner
Condition:     Excellent
Size Unframed: 42 x 22
Frame:           Gallery Style
Artist Top Price:   $53,775
Offered At:           CALL
Any other questions about our endorsement of Kahn are answered by his biography. He is American
because he went to high school and college here and served in the U.S. Navy. Kahn came from a well-
to-do German artistic family. His father was the conductor of the Stuttgart Philharmonic Symphony,  
his mother came from a family of art collectors and his uncle owned a Picasso--which Kahn, deciding
to become an artist at age five, made a cartoon of. Hitler's rise had Kahn first sent to England, and in
1940 he emigrated to the United States. In 1942, he entered New York's High School of Music and
Art, and after wartime service, he entered Hans Hofmann's school, where he met Larry Rivers. Of
his extremely close experience with Hoffmann, Kahn has said, “We who studied with 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--and this drive led Kahn to formulated his unique way in of employing
simplified geometric designs while carefully contrasting bold pastels of color and tone. His landscapes,
which he is most recognized for, show him always in pursuit of his intuitive sense of color and
dedicated to the pursuit of a new and verdant natural vision, shaped largely by pleine aire work near
his studio in Vermont. Kahn also established a studio in New York, and he is, without question, one
of the most influential American artists of our generation. By the end of the 1950s, he had developed
his abstracted landscape style, and like Eric Sloane, also started to focus on barns and agrarian
structures--and note the old barn barely present in "The cornfield at Dusk." As one critic put it:
"His paintings are illuminating and beautiful, the colors striking and rich, the process intimately
apparent to the observer." Kahn's work is in the Smithsonian and the Hirschorn, and can be found in
the permanent collections of over 100 museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, and the
Whitney.
Artist Name:  Wolf Kahn
Artist Dates:  (B.) 1927
Title:      The North Pasture
Date:              1981
Medium:         Oil on Canvas
Signature:      Lower Ctr
Provenance:   Pvt. Owner
Condition:      Excellent
Size Unframed: 36 x 24
Frame:        Gallery & Liner
Artist Top Price: $53,775
Offered At:         CALL
Two Newly Offered Marvelous Wolf Kahn Landscapes