Born in Stuttgart in 1927, Wolf Kahn fled Germany at age 12 and moved to the United States in 1940. After attending the High School of Music and Art in New York City, he continued his studies at the Hans Hofmann School, becoming Hofmann’s studio assistant. His native tongue was an advantage in Hofmann’s classroom because he could translate the teachers’ signature mix of English and German for other students.
After over two years of training under Hofmann, Kahn relocated to Chicago where he attended the University of Chicago and received a Bachelor's Degree.
Influenced by Hofmann’s practice of using nature as the starting point for a painting, Kahn’s work includes both pictorial landscape and abstraction. Converging light and color to create sensual and atmospheric pictorial fields, his paintings evoke the ethereal world of nature even when they are non-representational.
Although Kahn's work is a departure in temperament from Hofmann’s “explosive” compositions, his paintings reflect many of Hofmann’s principles of chromatic movement and tension. Often juxtaposing saturated pinks, magentas, and oranges with cool, muted pastels, Kahn's balanced work easily transports the viewer into his tranquil world.
The six pictures that the girls studied are below. Each looked at the picture for a period of time, and then shared with me what they remembered most about the picture. Their comments, likewise, are below.
Barn with Conveyor
=> It was a barn and house; and it had a conveyor belt to bring down hay.
=> Off to the side there was a tiny grove of trees.
=> The sky was a deep blue - almost purplish.
=> There were quite a few windows.
=> There were so many colors. I counted about ten different colors: red, blue, orange, purple, white, green, black, gray, and pink...and lots of different shades with those colors. It was cool he could mix all those shades.
=> The barn home was long and there was a part of it that stuck out.
=> There was a house attached to it.
=> There weren't any people or animals, but you could tell it was a farm house.
=> There was a barn that was not a normal color. It was more like a pale yellow.
=> The conveyor belt - toward the top - looked black on the sides.
=> To the left there was a clump of trees, like a forest.
=> To the right, there was a W and a Kahn - or maybe his initials.
=> The grass was green with brown added to it so it looked like dirt.
=> The sky was a dark blue - a very pretty vivid blue.=> There is a weird thing to the left like a wheel, but it was wider than a wheel.
=> There's a boulder in the middle of the forest.
=> There are a bunch of trees around it.
=> The trees around it are so tall you can can't see the top of them.
=> There aren't any leaves on the trees.
=> Behind the boulder and further in the forest there are trees that aren't as tall. They have beautiful golden yellow leaves.
=> The sky is a blueish color with white clouds in it.
=> In front of the boulder there's a tree that fell over and it is leaning on other trees.
=> There's a big gigantic boulder in the middle of the forest.
=> A few feet away, there looks like a gigantic clearing.
=> The picture has lots of colors in it: yellow, blue, purple, green ,white, and different shades of those colors.
=> The forest is big, has lots of trees, and one tree looks like it is tilted.
=> The sky was blue and it looked like it was about to rain. It has a dark cloud.
=> The ground was green and had lots of leaves on it.
=> The leaves were yellow and brown.
Chimayo - Houses with a Metal Roof
=> There was a house attached to a longer part.
=> It was a yellow masonry color.
=> The sky was a really deep dark blue. But even though it was nighttime, it was all lit up like it was the middle of the day.
=> On the house there were three windows and two scrawny trees outside.
=> There was a brown shack on the left side of the house. There were lots of colors on the side of the shack.
=> In between the two trees, there was a green hat - like a stovepipe hat that Abraham Lincoln wore, except shorter and green.
=> Next to one of the windows it looked like there was a goose.
=> The sky wasn't completely blue. On the left-hand side there were parts that it looked like he didn't finish...like there were white scribbles.
=> The house had a white metal roof and two windows.
=> There's a door by a shrub.
=> There's a big tank like we have in the horse pasture.
=> There's a tree that was split in half so it looks like a gigantic bird wing.
=> The sky is a dark blue which is pretty.
=> The house is yellow.
=> It looked like there was a big thing to carry down or bring up the hay.
=> The ground was greenish...more white, actually.
=> There was a barn. It was brown and it looked like nothing was in there.
Pines and Violet
=> There were 16 trees in the picture.
=> There were a lot of colors that were layered: yellow, purple, brownish color, more purple, faded into pink, blue, purple, and the sky color.
=> On the right side of the tree trunks, there was light - like the sun was setting.
=> The trunks were all different shapes and sizes.
=> On one trunk, there was a red on it on the left side.
=> The texture looks soft and dreamy.
=> I couldn't see the sky - just that it was blue and that there were some clouds.
=> At the bottom of the picture was Wolf Kahn's name.
=> Behind the trees, it looked like there were more trees, but the colors were purple and pink.
=> The ground was yellow, green, and purple.
=> The trees were very tall and didn't have many green leaves on them.
=> The sky was blue, but it had a few white clouds that you really couldn't see.
=> There was a little bit of detail.
=> You couldn't really see the top of the trees.
Toward the Open Sea
=> It's a picture of an open sea.
=> The colors of the land are deep, vibrant, and dark colors.
=> The colors of the sky out to sea are a dreamy, pale blue.
=> In the middle of the picture, there is a strip of sand that is black - it's obsidian or volcanic rock.
=> On the right hand side, it is higher and then lower and then leads down to the water.
=> There is a lot of dark green on the land. There's even a bush on it.
=> It's not too detailed, but you can tell what it is. It's kind of pretty.
=> I saw a blue lake.
=> Further out, there were light patches - light blue.
=> Way further out, it was white.
=> There were black spots on the land - probably trees.
=> There were rocks by the shore and a few scraggly trees.
=> The colors of the shore were brown and apple green.=> The grass was green.
=> The sky was pale blue.
Shacks at Shatley Springs, North Carolina
=> There are three houses and all have porches on them.
=> In the very front of the picture, there was a part of the stream.
=> In between houses #2 and #3, there was a spreading tree that looked like an oak tree.
=> The sky was a pale, dreamy blue with white curling around it.
=> The houses were brownish and were on stilts.
=> Nobody was out and there were no animals, but it still looked cozy.
=> It looked to be in the middle of the day or mid-morning or mid-afternoon.
=> There was a house with black windows. It looked like it was abandoned.
=> The trees were purple, black, and a very dark pink.
=> The grass was green, but it had some brown spots.
=> The barn was attached to an area with a balcony.
=> The trees were very tall and black.
=> The trees looked rough.=> The barn was blue.
=> The sky had many clouds and it looked like it was going to storm because there were so many clouds in it.
=> The house and barn were standing on stilts.
=> It was dark under the house and barn where the stilts were.