Born in Stuttgart, Germany, in 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. He graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
After completing his degrees in only one year, Kahn decided to return to being a full-time 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 has painted landscapes in Egypt, Greece, Hawaii, Italy, Kenya, Maine, Mexico, and New Mexico. He spends his summers and autumns in Vermont on a hillside farm, which he and his wife, the painter Emily Mason, have owned since 1968, but his primary residence is in New York City. They have two daughters, Cecily and Melany. Cecily Kahn is also an artist, and is married to the painter David Kapp.
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 regularly exhibits at galleries and museums across North America. His work may be found in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; the Hirshhorn Museum and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA.
Wolf Kahn died March 15, 2020, at the age of 92, in New York, NY.