I was fortunate to know Wolf Kahn for about 30 years, starting when he published books with Harry N. Abrams in the 1990s, where I was an editor. He was charming, funny, generous, and talented, and his books were very popular. Extremely dapper, he sported the most colorful shirt and tie combinations—often it was a bright teal-blue shirt paired with a periwinkle tie. Wolf’s sense of color was sublime—he took me to lunch once, said to meet at the “café with the cadmium yellow number 7” façade. I visited Wolf in his studio in Chelsea a number of times, a large, vibrant workspace, productive but also very tidy. My last visit was a year ago, when I went to see him to discuss a new book my publisher at Rizzoli wanted to do about Wolf’s recent work. I always loved seeing the masses of color everywhere—paints and pastels and racks brimming with canvases, always a few paintings in progress on easels and some just finished hanging about.
A few decades ago, I was lucky enough to acquire a landscape by Wolf and learn from him the story behind it. On summer trips to Maine to visit family, Wolf liked to stop at a side-of-the-road seafood place near Bath, from which he could sit and paint from the overlook near the parking lot. By pure serendipity, we have driven by the exact spot a few times over the years, and we always stop to laugh at the corny giant red lobster perched on the roof of the Taste of Maine, and imagine Wolf sitting outside, enjoying a cup of chowder and painting a tree-lined, blue-water cove with stormy sky pressing down upon a scarlet streak of waning sunlight. In his hands, glorious.
I am so grateful to have met the artist behind those radiant canvases, heard his stories, and published his books. I will sorely miss him.