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Wolf Kahn NEW


Gallery Database:


Wolf Kahn (1927-2020). "The North Pasture,"

1981, oil on canvas, 24 x 36, signed. Shown

in digital frame; see actual frame below.


Curator Comments: 

Don't say you weren't warned. After Wolf Kahn turned ninety in 2017, we told you to buy Kahn because it was his best year ever! In 2018 we warned you again that average Kahn sales were rocketing higher. In March of 2020, Kahn passed away, and now his work has surpassed its record high, when his striking masterpiece "Evening Encampment" sold for $162,815, some 225% over the estimate. 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." Kahn's masterpiece   The North Pasture, exemplifies the same dynamic--a vision that places him well within the American landscape tradition--and as its ultimate colorist. 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.

KahnNorth20170313_155114 (3).jpg

Wolf Kahn ca. 1988

The "North Meadow" as currently framed

Kahn came from a well-to-do German artistic family. His father was the conductor of the Stuttgart Philharmonic Symphony;  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. After wartime service, he entered Hans Hofmann's school, where  Kahn formulated his unique way of employing simplified 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. They are dedicated to the pursuit of a new and verdant natural vision. Without question, Kahn is one of the most influential American artists of our generation. Kahn's work is in the Smithsonian and the Hirschhorn, and can be found in the permanent collections of over 100 museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney. We are very proud to offer his masterpiece , "The North Pasture."

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