(German, b. 1927) Born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1927, Wolf Kahn immigrated to the United States by way of England in 1940 through the Kindertransport. In 1945, he graduated from the High School of Music and Art in New York after which he spent time in the Navy. Under the GI Bill, he studied with the well-known teacher and abstract expressionist, Hans Hofmann, becoming Hofmann's studio assistant. In 1950, he enrolled in the University of Chicago as part of the Hutchins Chicago Plan, graduating after only eight months.
After a time of travel across America and working as a lumberjack in Oregon, Kahn returned to New York City. Kahn was determined to become a professional artist. He and other former Hofmann students established The Hansa (meaning "guild"), a cooperative gallery where he had his first one man show. In 1956, he joined the Grace Borgenicht Gallery where he exhibited regularly until 1995. In 1956, Kahn met Emily Mason and they married the next year in 1957. 1957 was also the year that Kahn had his first group exhibition at a major museum as part of the New York School: The Second Generation at the Jewish Museum. This was soon followed by Young America 1960: 30 Painters under 36 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and that same year Kahn began teaching at the University of California, Berkeley.
Today Kahn’s works can be found in the permanent collections of most major art museums in the United States including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Whitney Museum of America Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, among others. In addition, Kahn’s works regularly form the centerpiece of numerous group exhibitions and solo shows in galleries and museums throughout the United States and abroad.
Kahn’s brilliance has been recognized throughout his life, and this is evinced by the numerous accolades he has received. In 1962 he became a Fulbright Scholar and was able to use the funds for work in Italy. Four years later, he received the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. He received an Award in Art from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1979 and has received lifetime achievement awards and honorary degrees in the last two decades. He is a member of the National Academy of Design, as well as the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been appointed to the New York City Art Commission.
Kahn has travelled extensively, and has painted landscapes in a number of locations such as Maine, Mexico, Italy, Greece, Kenya, New Mexico, Namibia, Hawaii, and Egypt. He spends his summers and autumns in West Brattleboro, VT on a hillside farm, which he and his wife have owned since 1968. They have two daughters, Cecily and Melany. Cecily Kahn is also a painter, and she is married to the painter David Kapp.