Radiant Skies and Golden Meadows Inspire Luminous New Works by Celebrated Painter Wolf Kahn

By Karen Kedmey


Octogenarian painter Wolf Kahn—who was among the second generation of the New York School artists—continues to paint every day. Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe celebrates his recent work with a solo exhibition, featuring the luminous scenes of barns, rivers, meadows, and wooded New England landscapes for which the much-lauded artist is known.

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Wolf Kahn at El Paso Museum of Art

Since the advent of Abstract Expressionism followed by Post-painterly Abstraction in the mid-twentieth century, painters and other artists have been liberated to explore large-scale abstraction through expressive gestures, geometric forms, biomorphic shapes, minimal palettes, or new materials. Composed exclusively of works from the holdings of the El Paso Museum of Art, Amplified Abstraction presents all these approaches and more—revealing the variety to be discovered in monumental abstraction, and highlighting its singular power to arrest us aesthetically, engage us viscerally, or tease us perceptually.

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Six Decades in Wolf Kahn's Landscape

By John Seed

The earliest painting on view in Wolf Kahn: Six Decades is a large landscape-derived abstraction from 1960 titled “Into a Clearing.” It features a loose, pulsing welter of brushstrokes that coalesce into lush zones of breathing, blooming color. “Weaving Gray and Yellow,” another oil on canvas completed fifty-four years later, and also on display in “Six Decades” shows a similar gestural approach but with added notes of linearity and a little less painterly vapor.  Consistently in love with landscape — and the idea of landscape as an abstraction — Wolf Kahn has lovingly built a very vivid and beautiful oeuvre since first exhibiting his paintings at the Hansa Gallery, one of New York’s first co-op galleries, nearly sixty years ago.

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Wolf Kahn and Six Decades of Color

By Scott Indrisek

At 86, Wolf Kahn is still a firecracker. The painter — who has spent the majority of his life in New York, and who is known for vibrantly colored landscapes and nature scenes — is the subject of a six-decade retrospective on view at Ameringer McEnery Yohe through May 31. “The earlier the painting is, the better it seems to me to be,” Kahn deadpanned, thinking back to some of the canvases he produced in the early ’60s. “I think I’ve gone downhill ever since.” On a more serious note, he’s proud of himself for not resting on his laurels: “Here I am, still trying to do things that I don’t know how to do, strike out in new directions. I think that’s very healthy, and I consider myself fortunate.”

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Wolf Kahn

Review by Stephen May

Addison/Ripley Fine Art, Washington, D.C. 

Still going strong at 86, Wolf Kahn continues to work from nature, intent on representing its universal elements while imbuing his canvases with a specific sense of place. While repeatedly depicting familiar New England landscapes—verdant fields and forests, serene horizons, and sturdy houses and barns nestled among rolling hills—Kahn handles each subject with an appealing spontaneity that keeps every composition fresh. This show brought together 30 oil paintings and pastels, most of them created during the last few years, all of which proved that the German-born American painter has lost none of his flair for intuitive, sensual color.

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Control and Letting Go: A Lecture by Wolf Kahn at Brattleboro Museum & Art Center

Wolf Kahn's rich, expressive body of work represents a synthesis of his modern abstract training with Hans Hofmann, the palette of Matisse, Rothko’s sweeping bands of color, and the atmospheric qualities of American Impressionism. In an essay accompanying a 2011 exhibit of Kahn's work, BMAC chief curator Mara Williams wrote, "His images are palpably about place, and yet they transcend mere description. For more than half a century, this modern master has balanced the sensuous qualities of color and light with a relatively stark geometry of form, giving free reign to complex investigations of perception and of place."

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Artist Wolf Kahn to speak at BMAC, Renowned landscape painter to discuss balance between 'control and letting go'

Brattleboro, VT -- Wolf Kahn views himself as a liberator. The contemporary American artist said he aims to bring "landscape painting up to date" by liberating color, being free in his application and just generally trying to be "more modern than most landscape painters are."

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Wolf Kahn's New York

By Franklin Einspruch

One usually associates the name of Wolf Kahn with New England landscapes, but his economically painterly treatment suits the urban fabric as ably. Ameringer McEnery Yohe has put together a show of his New York images to prove it.

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Wolf Kahn: A Lecture on Planning and Spontaneity in Art

Planning and Spontaneity in Art A Lecture by Wolf Kahn at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center 7 October 2012 Wolf Kahn is a leading figure in American art. His rich, expressive body of work represents a synthesis of his modern abstract training with Hans Hofmann, the palette of Matisse, Rothko’s sweeping bands of color, and the atmospheric qualities of American Impressionism. Kahn has received many honors and awards, and his work is held in the collections of major museums worldwide.

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Wolf Kahn, Brattleboro Pastels

Wolf Kahn spends much of his summer sketching in pastel in and around Brattleboro, Vermont, later refining the sketches in his hilltop studio. BMAC is honored to present a portion of his summer 2011 artistic production.

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Wolf Kahn: In Latter-Day Focus

By: Lucio Pozzi

Color & Consequence, Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe, 2 June - 16 July, 2011

Several years ago, the late art historian Robert Rosenblum paid a visit to Wolf Kahn’s studio and, after a lengthy and attentive stay, turned to him and said: “There is nothing here that Monet hasn’t done already.”

 

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Wolf Kahn: Technicolor Fields

Wolf Kahn’s recent paintings, continuing his long engagement with rural New England as fodder and muse, still manage to startle and delight. With the unveiling of two dozen new oils at Ameringer McEnery Yohe on June 2, some 58 years after his first gallery show, the artist seems to declare all the debates of the intervening decades still vital. In a work such as Complex, 2009, above, we can see the tensions between flatness and depth, expressionism and formalism, abstraction and figuration come to life. – EB

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Wolf Kahn: Sizing Up

by Elisa Decker

“Wolf Kahn: Sizing Up,” a two-part exhibition of the artist’s recent work (accompanied by a two-volume publication with an essay by critic Karen Wilkin), featured 15 large-scale oil paintings followed by a second show of 21 smaller related pastels. This arrangement evidenced the interconnectedness of drawing and painting in the artist’s practice while providing an opportunity to observe each medium on its own terms. 

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To Celebrate, Exalt & Excite

By: Maureen Mullarkey

Sizing Up, Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe, 26 April - 27 July 2007

Can art this ingratiating be taken seriously? The question dogs critical appraisal of Wolf Kahn. His popularity with a broad public and the unclouded loveliness of his landscapes give rise to grumblings that he has not earned his keep. His lyrical paintings and pastels, on view in two successive shows at Ameringer & Yohe, are so easy to like that they offend against the inherited mantle of vanguardism that marked his early career.

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Beyond Easy Pleasures

By Robert Berlind

Lyrical scenes of woods, pastures, lakes, streams, coastal sites and, perhaps most famously, barns, whose looming geometry figures in so many compositions: these are the basis of Wolf Kahn’s popularity among the broad public. Kahn’s landscapes range from deftly rendered observations to frankly decorative, nature-based concoctions with freely invented, autonomous color harmonies. Although his strongest affinity may be with Rothko, his work also evokes, by turns, 19th-century traditions of landscape, both French and American, and the less angst-ridden side of German Expressionism. 

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Wolf Kahn

by Tomassio Longhi

A painter whose name has been for the most part identified with landscapes which combine abstraction, representational motifs, and an unusual repertoire of high-key colors, Wolf Kahn has finally revealed to his critics and audience that his distinguished career has had a long and complicated evolution.

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Unlocking the Unconscious

By: Lucinda Franks

In a studio at the National Academy of Design’s School of Fine Arts in New York, 30 men and women huddle around Wolf Kahn, craning their necks to discover how he completes one of his country-barn pastels in less than 20 minutes. During this annual two-day workshop, Kahn has religiously refused to talk technique, insisting that if his students let the unconscious take over, their imaginations will flow. Many of them flourish, somehow inspired by osmosis to create glorious color combinations. However, some find his exercises, so simple on the surface, unforgiving in their ability to expose an absence of talent.

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