Ninety-year old painter Wolf Kahn won’t be able to travel to Santa Fe from his farm in Vermont to attend the July 28 opening of his show “Wolf Kahn: Light and Color,” but approximately three dozen of his oil paintings created from the 1990s through the present have been shipped from his Vermont studio to LewAllen Galleries.
“To plan the show, I went to his farm to look at paintings with him,” says LewAllen Galleries’ director of modernism Louis Newman, who has been friends with Kahn for years. “Selecting works was a collaborative effort.”
Most of the paintings-some of which have never been seen outside of Kahn’s studio-are scenes from the greater New England area where Kahn has lived since 1968.
“We weren’t subject driven when we chose the paintings for the show nor were we intending to create a retrospective,” explains Newman. “We picked pieces that represent his body of work for the past 20 years.”
Newman says that Kahn refers to his older painting style as “brushing.” His more recent pieces are accomplished with oil sticks. “He’s told me he loves oil sticks because of the movement and action he can create,” says Newman.
Born in Germany in 1927, Kahn immigrated to the U.S. by way of England in 1940. After spending time in the U.S. Navy, Kahn used help from the G.I. Bill to study with abstract expressionist painter Hans Hofmann. Kahn was Hofmann’s studio assistant for a period of time before enrolling in the University of Chicago in 1950. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1951.
During his career, Kahn has been honored with a Fulbright Scholarship and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. His work can be found in many museum collections including those at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles.
“I’m very proud of this exhibit,” says Newman, who is excited to be presenting Kahn’s first solo show in Santa Fe since 1988. “Wolf Kahn is one of the foremost landscape artists in the U.S. He goes to the essence of nature in his work. He’s a great colorist, color field artist and abstract expressionist. It’s amazing that he wears all those hats.”