Wolf Kahn is one of the most highly regarded colorists working today. By blurring the boundaries between pictorial landscape and painterly abstraction, he evokes an ethereal world, a world marked by epiphanies. Kahn centers his paintings on the way masses of saturated hues can be made to “push and pull” each other into space. A summer sunset blazes with a fiery red; a thicket of trees distilled to their most elemental state, silhouetted by a luminous yellow light. Kahn takes scenery that is once universal and transforms shape and color into something wholly unique.
Now 89 years old, Kahn continues to paint in both his New York and Vermont studios, amassing an oeuvre that spans six decades. The exhibition at Tayloe Piggott Gallery, Recent Paintings, pulls work from his most recent period, with fifteen canvases from 2012-2016. These paintings are noted for their variety of scale and a distinct energy and spontaneity that characterize the artist’s later works.
Born in Germany in 1927, Kahn fled to England during World War II and ultimately immigrated with his family to New York City. He studied with the seminal Abstract Expressionist Hans Hofmann, eventually becoming his studio assistant. Although he came of age immersed in Abstract Expressionism, Kahn veered from his peers and turned to nature for inspiration. His work is included in preeminent private and public collections: in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Jewish Museum; the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; and both the Hirshhorn Museum and the National Museum of American Art in Washington, DC. Kahn is a member of the National Academy of Design and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the recipient of numerous awards including a Fulbright Scholarship and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.