Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Exhibition of Pastels by Wolf Kahn

Opens at the Morris Museum September 11

Wolf Kahn Pastels, featuring twenty-three pastels on paper, principally of rural Southern scenes, by one of America’s premier landscape painters, opens Saturday, September 11, 2010 at the Morris Museum of Art where it remains on display through Sunday, November 7, 2010.

“Wolf Kahn is a master of the difficult medium of pastel and the greatest colorist of our time,” said Kevin Grogan, director of the Morris Museum of Art. “This exhibition highlights the landscape of the South—from barns and cabins to iconic, historic structures–-as well as some city scenes in New Orleans and Augusta, and underscores Wolf Kahn’s unerring instinct for the telling detail. These pastels blend certain signature elements—the combination of the language of abstraction, realism, and breathtaking color—to yield a body of work that is simply like no other.”

Born in Germany in 1927, Wolf Kahn has lived in the United States since 1940. He graduated from the High School of Music and Art in New York City before enrolling in the studio school of renowned abstract painter and teacher Hans Hofmann. Eventually, he became Hofmann’s studio assistant for two years, after which he received a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Chicago.

His work defies easy categorization. Though steeped in Hofmann's modernist theories, Kahn developed a style of landscape painting that is uniquely his own, a style that employs the language of abstraction—particularly in its active brushwork and energetic gesture—while employing color in a way that owes much to other influences, most notably the work of such early twentieth century French painters as Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, and Henri Matisse, all of them renowned colorists. Kahn has this to say of his work: “[Color] is my primary interest. I am always trying to get to the danger point, where color either becomes too sweet or too harsh; too noisy or too quiet.” Color is his signature, and, though he often seems to push the boundaries daringly, his use of it is never arbitrary and never less than apt.

Kahn has been the recipient of many honors and awards—a Fulbright Scholarship, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Award in Art from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is a member of the National Academy of Design, as well as the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work is included in the permanent collections of most major American museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the National Academy Museum, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Morris Museum of Art, to cite just a few. His work has been the subject of several books and monographs. One solely dedicated to his work in pastel was published in 2000. Wolf Kahn's America a compendium of landscape paintings produced throughout the United States was published in 2003.

The present exhibition celebrates the artist’s eighty-third birthday. Despite impaired vision, he continues to produce pastels and paintings that have never been more richly gestural or luminous.

The present exhibition celebrates the artist’s eighty-third birthday. Despite impaired vision, he continues to produce pastels and paintings that have never been more richly gestural or luminous.

Related Events

Sunday, September 12, 3:15 p.m.
Wolf Kahn Pastels tour. Free.

Thursday, October 7, 10:00–11:00 a.m. or 11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Toddler Time: Pastel Tree Party!

View works in the exhibition Wolf Kahn Pastels, listen to a classic children’s story, and create a pastel drawing. Museum family members, free; nonmembers, $4 per participant. Registration required by calling 706-828-3867.

October 22, noon.
Art at Lunch: The Artwork of Wolf Kahn
Jerald Melberg, owner of the Jerald Melberg Gallery, discusses the life and artwork of artist Wolf Kahn. Members, $10; nonmembers, $14. Lunch by New York Butcher Shoppe. Paid reservations due October 20.

The Morris Museum of Art was founded in 1985 and opened to the public in 1992. It is the oldest museum in the country that is devoted to the art and artists of the American South. The museum’s permanent collection holds approximately five thousand works of art that date from the late-eighteenth century to the present. The Morris is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., and on Sunday, noon–5:00 p.m. For more information about the Morris Museum of Art, visit or call 706-724-7501.
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