November 17, 2020 12:00 EST

Modern & Contemporary Art

 
  Lot 69
 
Lot 69 - Wolf Kahn (American/German, 1927-2020)

69

Wolf Kahn (American/German, 1927-2020)
Overall Green

Signed bottom center, numbered and dated 126-1995 verso, oil on canvas.
52 x 57 in. (132.1 x 145cm)

Provenance: Private Collection, Delaware.

NOTE:
Wolf Kahn's ethereal yet electric landscapes have drawn collectors to his work for decades. While his canvases typically depict familiar landscapes likely inspired by his surroundings in New York and Vermont, each one offers a unique exploration of color and luminescence. Trees and mountains, skies and fields are nearly always recognizable, but are often reduced to bands of color that play off one another in a way that approaches abstraction. In his earliest days as an artist, Kahn studied with Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann who once said, "in nature, light creates the color; in the picture, color creates light. Every color shade emanates a very characteristic light-no substitute is possible." [1] No doubt, Kahn's emphatic employment of pure color was shaped by this master artist and educator who influenced so many important artists of the mid-twentieth century.

In the present work, a grove of trees is bathed in light, rendered in luminous limes and golden yellows. Their hue is intensified by the cool pinks and violets of the trunks, shadows and skies. A cool green field in the foreground is bisected by a curving, warm-toned path which widens towards the viewer at right, welcoming us into the lush and joyful composition.

[1] Hans Hofmann quoted in Barbara Rose, Readings in American Art 1900-1975, New York: Praeger, 1975, p. 117.

Sold for $93,750
Estimated at $30,000 - $50,000


 

Signed bottom center, numbered and dated 126-1995 verso, oil on canvas.
52 x 57 in. (132.1 x 145cm)

Provenance: Private Collection, Delaware.

NOTE:
Wolf Kahn's ethereal yet electric landscapes have drawn collectors to his work for decades. While his canvases typically depict familiar landscapes likely inspired by his surroundings in New York and Vermont, each one offers a unique exploration of color and luminescence. Trees and mountains, skies and fields are nearly always recognizable, but are often reduced to bands of color that play off one another in a way that approaches abstraction. In his earliest days as an artist, Kahn studied with Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann who once said, "in nature, light creates the color; in the picture, color creates light. Every color shade emanates a very characteristic light-no substitute is possible." [1] No doubt, Kahn's emphatic employment of pure color was shaped by this master artist and educator who influenced so many important artists of the mid-twentieth century.

In the present work, a grove of trees is bathed in light, rendered in luminous limes and golden yellows. Their hue is intensified by the cool pinks and violets of the trunks, shadows and skies. A cool green field in the foreground is bisected by a curving, warm-toned path which widens towards the viewer at right, welcoming us into the lush and joyful composition.

[1] Hans Hofmann quoted in Barbara Rose, Readings in American Art 1900-1975, New York: Praeger, 1975, p. 117.

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Wolf Kahn

The significant Color Field painter Wolf Kahn was born in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1927, before fleeing Germany in the face of Nazi oppression in 1943. After immigrating permanently to the United States in 1940, Kahn began his art studies under the eminent Abstract Expressionist Hans Hoffmann, who also employed Kahn to be his studio assistant. His colorful landscapes toe the line between abstraction and realism, depicting both his extensive travels and his more permanent residence in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Freeman’s has facilitated a number of highly successful sales of paintings by Kahn, including Overall Green, a forested landscape rendered in electric yellows, pinks, and greens, that nearly doubled its pre-sale high estimate in 2020 to achieve $93,750. Yellow Barn Half Hidden also exceeded its pre-sale estimates in 2019, selling for $43,750, as did Tall Pines, a mesmerizing, almost otherworldly landscape that achieved $40,625 in 2017.

Kahn’s unexpected use of color is one of the trademarks of his work: purple pines, yellow forests, pink mountains, and so forth. These landscapes—always on the edge of abstraction—are both immediately recognizable as such and eerily unfamiliar. This blurring of boundaries has created immense interest over time in Kahn’s work, which is featured in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., among many others. His drive to create lasted up until his death; Kahn was a prolific painter, and leaves behind many works for future generations to discover.