Art 1 – for 4/10


Wolf Kahn review

Read the review linked above and the article  linked below. Watch at least one of the videos (the second is most recommended regarding the path of his career and comments about painting.)

Wolf Kahn studio visit

What do you find as the most interesting art historical fact and why?

Does his personal history in Nazi Germany and “Kindertransport” refugee change the way you view and interpret his work?

What insights about painting your own landscapes do you gain from listening to him, looking at, and reading about his paintings ?

Do 1 hour in your sketchbook, inspired by Wolf Kahn’s work.


24 responses »

  1. The fact that I found most interesting was that Kahn is known as, “one of America’s most striking landscape and color field painters”. And it broke my heart when it mentions that he was once knocked off his bicycle and beaten by German adults because he wasn’t wearing a Hitlerjugend uniform. His personal history in the refugee made me sad more than anything else. An insight about his paintings that I could use in my own landscape art work would be to definitely make my colors pop out like his. I loved his art! 🙂

  2. I find it sad that Wolf Kahn loved nature as a kid, but then was banned from leaving the city because he was Jewish. Wolf Kahn’s personal history in Nazi Germany does not change the way that I interpret his work, but I still really like his style, especially the second painting on the second website, the one called Darker on the Left, made in 2007. The insight that I gained was that random bright colors can look good in a painting, even if it does not look that way in real life, like with the pink in Darker on the Left. I like Wolf Kahn’s work more than any other artist we have studied in art class this year.

  3. I think it is sad and interesting that he got beaten for not wearing his uniform. His history in Nazi Germany does change how I interpret the work, because he painted calm scenes in nature, and his childhood was the complete opposite. I learned that you don’t have to define shapes to make the viewer know what they are.

  4. I think Kahn’s childhood very much influenced his artwork. The fact that he grew up in Nazi Germany and the restrictions he was placed under, but has become a successful artist is very inspiring. I like how his artwork is very layered, and the colors he chooses, while not complements, are unique. I enjoyed also his paintings of barns–I like the way he uses grey to stand out against his green, yellow, and sometimes pink backgrounds.

  5. the fact that he has lost a lot of his eyesight, but he thinks of it as a blessing because he can let go of details is really neat, because usually someone would think of it as a disability in their life, but he sees it as a frame of view, or his painter’s eye, and this means that he has given himself to painting.
    i don’t have a lot of stereotypes of the Kindertransport, so it dosen’t affect his art to me. if i were to take his point of view, literally and artistically, i would probably use a camera that was out of focus, tof get the general colors of the landscape without specific boundaries.

  6. I think it’s interesting how he went through so much as a child and yet kept a lot of the things he loved from that time, such as nature and color. I think being in Nazi Germany and having to flee to the US for his life brought a lot of darkness to his work. That time was obviously very dark, and full of death and destruction. A lot of his art has elements of darkness in it.

    From listening to what he says, it makes me think about how he doesn’t try to make his art look like something – as he says, he aims to avoid intentionality. Although personally I prefer a bit less abstract work, his use of color and emotion instead of defined figures is something that I’ll think about in my future drawings.

  7. I think it’s amazing that Kahn suffered such a hard life with Nazi Germany, yet he was able to become a successful artist in spite of this. Learning about his life as a Jew definitely changed how I see his work. I now see the darkness in his paintings as the dark parts of his life, and the lighter shades as the better moments in the darkness (not sure if that makes sense). By looking at his artwork, I’ve learned that to make a landscape, “pretty” and bright colors can be accompanied by ugly grays and browns, and it actually looks more interesting than just having the “pretty” colors used.

  8. i think that, him being a victim of nazi germany would not affect him being an artist but would instead affect the subject of his paintings. i would not have guessed from his current works that he had such a dark past.

  9. I admire the fact that Kahn’s paintings show a lot of his past in abstract methods, at least as far as I can see and recognize. I think looking at his paintings after learning about his past in Nazi Germany does alter my views a bit because I can see the depth more. I feel that in any field of art, when the artist connects their work to their own life and emotion, it brings a whole new dimension to their creations, and I saw this in his work. I used to just see landscape as emotionless paintings but I can now see this is obviously not true and that a lot of emotion through color and techniques can be added to a landscape painting.

  10. I really enjoyed Kahn’s works because of how simple they were to the eye. It’s doesn’t take much brain power to figure out the painting. I also thought it was very interesting how he only used about 3-4 colors in each work. I really like how that also simplifies the painting.
    I found it very sad that he had to go through Nazi Germany. Especially since he had such a passion for nature, yet he wasn’t able to explore it. I mean yes, I think that his experiences shaped his artwork because it shaped him as a person. It’s interesting though because his works aren’t very depressing from what I can tell, but I’m glad he was able to flee to the US and somewhat reunite with his love of painting and nature.

  11. I find it very interesting that he lived during a time when censorship of art only allowed artists to paint what the Nazis considered to be good propaganda for their state. After this, he painted pictures of the scenery he had only wished he’d seen during this time. I find this very moving. I find knowing his life story and the meaning of his paintings to change my view of them significantly. It makes them more interesting. I find that, in painting, it helps to have n emotional connection to the image in order to be able to create a moving painting.

  12. The colors he uses when painting people remind me a lot of Matisse, but when he uses bold colors in landscapes it is something else entirely. I really like Wolf Kahn’s art! I like how his paintings seem pretty simple at first but actually have many complex aspects. I think his personal history is tragic, but it doesn’t really change the viewing experience for me. I wish I could be as daring with color and imperfection (how he doesn’t try to make everything completely realistic) as he is.

  13. I think it is interesting that art had to be censored but he was able to eventually paint uncensored art which is awesome. Knowing his history does make his paintings more interesting They seem more meaningful when you know that he couldn’t leave the city and be in nature, which he loved, in Nazi Germany, but when he left for America, he was free to be in nature and paint the beautiful landscape. I love the colors in his paintings especially Order in Disorder and Darker on the Left. The trees in these paintings are beautiful. I also learned no to focus as much on the exact shape and boundaries

  14. Kahn’s early tragedies did affect the emotional content of his paintings and his personal growth through the darkest of those childhood days in Nazi Germany worked themselves out in his landscape paintings, especially I think, in the ‘barn paintings’. It was interesting that he studied with Hans Hofmann. When his landscapes became a combination of abstraction AND realism, he entered a path of his own truth. I found it interesting that he would take notes on a set of relationships from nature observations, then go back to his studio in NYC on Broadway and 12th Street to clarify these indoors, not on the spot in the landscape. He stated that he found “nature too emotional, and his studio very tranquil”. I love the beautiful grays and the color selections that seem muted or seen through a fog, how the brush strokes have so much feeling….lots of violet and yellow softened and grayed down. Beautiful! He is very involved with the sensual experience of color. Barb

  15. I thought it was interesting how Kahn was able to create art like this after being censored and repressed from the holocaust. It definitely makes me think, because I knew that he was influenced by Nazi Germany, that his paintings of trees may be something more than just trees and probably mean something more. His landscapes made me think about the use of complement colors a lot more, where it isn’t just one analogous color scheme.

  16. I find it very sad that Kahn’s very happy childhood was interrupted by the Holocaust, and I think that being saved by the kindertransport made a significant life change in him. I found interesting but sad that he rejected his own Judaism and described himself as an anti-semite. I was confused because the websites referred to his paintings as realist paintings, but they seemed pretty abstract to me…

  17. I am sad about his tough life. He does however have a very interesting artistic style that most likely is a reflection of his childhood because of the almost blurry look all of his landscape paintings have. Also I like how he uses color to distinguish objects in the painting by using different warms of colors. In particular his use of complements to create mood and atmosphere in the landscapes giving them a particular feel to them.

  18. the fact that he was beaten for not wearign a uniform. i could see that as being a citation or something, but beaten? just heartbreaking. I enjoyed the blury look of his paintings. i also liked the use of complements. it made them look less realistic in a way, but at the same time the colors popping out give a more emotional feel to the works.

  19. It is a tragedy that his childhood was interrupted by the holocaust, and i think being saved changed his life. all of his art seems to reflect a blurry landscapes, and he used different colors to reflect moods which I find very effective.

  20. Alright so i thought it was interesting to read about his experiences with the Holocaust, and how it affected him. It was somewhat surprising to see how it has affected him, even to this day. And i thought it was brave of him to explain his feelings.
    I would be interested in reading more about his story and opinions on that. doesn’t change the way i look at his work.

    Darker on the Left is awesome. I could stare at that for hours. If that painting was the first thing i saw when i woke up, then everyday would be a good day.
    Also i just love his style in general and he seems like an awesome person.

    But the whole thing with his macular degeneration was interesting. I just love his style and how he he clutters together a bunch of light airy brushstrokes to make a very pretty detailed abstract painting. Which may or may not really be related to his eyes. i don’t know. But its cool.

  21. i find the story about him getting beaten by adults in the streets as a child pretty compelling. his personal experiences of living through the holocaust in my opinion does not effect the way interpret his art although his art is steeped in emotion and the emotion he ads to some of his pieces may have been effected by his early childhood experience. i think the most important thing we could learn from him on a border scale is to be free with our art and steer away from intentionality but for our current peace what we should take away from this is use color to give our art feeling and emotion

  22. Wolf Kahn described his childhood as “precariously happy” which I think shaped a lot of how he portrayed the world in his art. He was constantly caught between the good and the bad, he was privelaged, but he was also considered to be an abomination by the greater society. His work seems to be focusing on the few good things he has in life, but it is blurry and distant, emblematic of how he was trying to escape the harsh realities of the real world. I think the fact that he was beaten is a very interesting fact to understand when trying to analyze his work. Knowing about his childhood and his experience with the holocaust I find myself looking at his work more as an expression of a disturbed psyche, and less as a work of art.

  23. I thought the most interesting historical fact was Kahn’s long, interesting relationship with nature. He’d always loved nature but because of the Nazi decree he was banned from going to view nature. This is probably very closely related to the reason why he preferred painting nature in the city rather than venturing to the nature to paint it. His story of leaving Nazi Germany doesn’t impact my view of his art but it does possibly explain some of the mixed meaning in his works. Looking at his paintings I really enjoyed the shapes he used to portray the landscapes and I will probably use that in my landscapes.

  24. I think it really sad that Wolf Kahn loved nature like a kid. Wolf Kahn’s personal history does not change the way that he express his work. I still really like his style, especially the second painting on the second website, the one called Darker on the Left, made in 2007. I like Wolf Kahn’s work more than any other artist.

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