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 Julius Kahn  (1893 - 1983)

About: Julius Kahn
 

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania / Germany      Known for: plein air landscape, harbor scene and still life painting

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New York Skyline
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is from Kevin Daniel, collector of work by the artist.

Julius Kahn was born in Frankfurt, Germany on 1 December 1892. Kahn may have served in WWI, as a picture he took of the trenches of that war was mentioned in a history of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh.

Kahn gave his place of employment as the Biehl Optical Company on his WWII Draft Registration Card. The October 11, 1962 issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette contains a biography of Kahn on the occasion of an exhibition of his artwork at the Gallery Upstairs. The exhibition included oils, watercolors and drawings.

According to this article, Kahn studied applied art at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Hamburg, Germany. He came to the United States in 1938 as a result of Hitler's ascent to power. He worked as a printer in Pittsburgh and studied painting with Samuel Rosenberg and Balcomb Greene. He became a member of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh (AAP) in 1943. He exhibited 29 paintings in 20 years between 1943 and 1982 at the AAP annual exhibitions. The last painting, titled Window, was in 1982.

Kahn was married to a woman named Selma Schoemann, who was born on 30 April 1917 in Losnich, Germany, and died on 3 March 1997 in Pittsburgh. Julius and Selma are the grandparents of well known photographer Jesse Kalisher of New York City.

Note that the painting Poinsettas, shown as an example of his work, was completed when Kahn was 88 or 89 years of age. This painting was offered at the "Two Day Historic Hillsborough Auction" sponsored by Leland Little Auction and Estate Sales Ltd., at Hillsborough, North Carolina on 16 September 2006. This may give a clue to the estate that it came from.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11 October 1962:

"Stark Nature Artist Adept in Other Styles: Julius Kahn Show at 'Gallery Upstairs"
By Jeanette Jena, Post Art Critic

In a biographical sketch - prepared for his current exhibit at the "Gallery Upstairs" - Julius Kahn says that he deliberately "commits the crime" of copying nature as closely as he can, making only slight distortions or changes when he feels that expression of rhythm requires it, and preferring to paint "right on the spot."

In spite of this bold assertion, I feel that the artist's pictures of Israel are the most convincing works in the show. And these, he admits, were necessarily done from sketches and snapshots, because he had no time for full scale painting, during his recent brief visit there.

Emotional Distance Cited

To be sure, these oils - Israel Landscape, Bazaar Street in Akko, Impression at Tiberias and Chalutz - must certainly be called realistic; as would the portfolio of prints, based on Israeli sketches, which are also exhibited here.

However, memory has created an "emotional distance" which seems to add more force to these landscapes. And although Kahn's approach betrays an unabashed admiration for Van Gogh's dazzling colors and vivid southern patterns, I think you could call this the lesser "crime" of copying "human nature," which other artists have done before him.
   
Largely self-taught and a printer by occupation, Kahn was born in Frankfurt, Germany, and came to this country in 1938, during the Hitler oppression.

Water Colors, Oils Praised

A United States citizen since 1944, he has been a member of the Associated Artists since 1943; and, in Pittsburgh, supplemented his early training in applied art at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Hamburg with evening classes with Samuel Rosenberg and Balcomb Greene.

In addition to the Israel subjects, I like the free handling of a watercolor and an oil called "Parade". Both suggest people caught off guard, enjoying themselves in a crowd; and I would guess that they were also inspired bu quick sketches, rather than carefully worked over "on the spot."
   
The exhibition is made up of 25 oils, watercolors and drawings -still-life subjects - in addition to the print portfolio. It continues through October 28.

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Kahn is mentioned in Davenports Art Reference and Price Guide and Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, 1910-1975: The First 75 Years by Brignano.
   
Kahn died on 7 February 1983 at the age of 90. Note that the painting Poinsettia, shown as an example of his work, was completed when he was 88 or 89 years old. His obituaries below appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Press on 8 February 1983:

Julius Kahn, Pittsburgh Artist

Julius Kahn, a Pittsburgh artist and retired printer, died Monday in Forbes Hospice. He was 90.
   
Mr.Kahn who lived at 5326 Bartlett St., Squirrel Hill, was native of Germany and came to this country in 1938. He studied art here under Samuel Rosenberg but his full-time occupation was as a printer. He owned a shop in the former Pittsburgh Life Building Downtown.

Mr. Kahn's works were exhibited at the Arts and Craft center in Shadyside and at one-man shows in the Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute.
   
He was a member of B'nai-Zion Congregation; the Pittsburgh Society of Artists; and a 25-year member of the Zionist Organization of America. He also was a member of the defunct Friendship Club and its predecessor, the German Club.

Mr. Kahn is survived by his wife, Selma; a daughter Ilse Kalisher of New York City; a sister, Alice Blumenthal of Bethesda, Md,; and a grandson.
   
Services will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow in the Ralph Schugar Chapel, 5509 Centre Ave., Shadyside. Visitation will be one hour before services. Burial will be in the Beth Shalom Cemetery, Shaler
   
Memorial contributions may be made to the Gertrude Nachman Memorial Book Fund of the Hebrew Institute of Pittsburgh, Forbes and Deniston avenues, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15217. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Julius Kahn

Pittsburgh artist Julius Kahn, 90, died yesterday at the Forbes Hospice in the East End.
   
Mr. Kahn of 6326 Bartlett St., Squirrel Hill was a native of Germany who came to the United States in 1938. He worked as a printer with offices in the Pittsburgh Standard Life Building, Downtown.

Mr. Kahn studied with Pittsburgh artist Samuel Rosenberg and had been a member of the Associated Artists Guild since 1943. He was a 25-year member of the Zionist Organization of America and belonged to the Pittsburgh Society of Artists, the Pittsburgh Center for Arts and the Carnegie Museum Society. He also belonged to the former Congregation B'nai Zion in Squirrel Hill and the now defunct Friendship club.

He is survived by his wife, Selma of Squirrel Hill, a daughter, Ilse Kalisher of New York City; a sister, Alice Blumenthal of Bethesda, Md., and a grandson.
   
Services will be at 1 p.m. tomorrow at the Ralph Schugar Chapel, 5509 Centre Ave., Shadyside. Friends may call an hour before the service. Burial will be in the Beth Shalom Cemetery, Shaler.

Contributions may be made to the Gertrude Nachman Memorial Book Fund of the Hebrew Institute of Pittsburgh.

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