Public Art Fund Talks: Wyatt Kahn

Wednesday, December 7, 2022, 6:30 - 8pm

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Wyatt Kahn

Wyatt Kahn, "Morning," 2021. Courtesy of the artist, Galerie Eva Presenhuber and Xavier Hufkens. Presented by Public Art Fund as part of Wyatt Kahn: Life in the Abstract on view at City Hall Park, New York City, June 8, 2022 - February 26, 2022. Photo: Nicholas Knight, Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY.

On December 7, join us for a free artist talk with Wyatt Kahn on the occasion of his first public art exhibition, Life in the Abstract. Kahn’s talk at The Cooper Union will address his multidimensional practice that encompasses painting, drawing, and sculpture, with a focus on his Public Art Fund exhibition, currently on view through February 26, 2023 at City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan.

Throughout his career, Kahn has examined the relationships between painting and sculpture. His distinctive visual vocabulary of geometric and representational forms integrates aesthetic concerns with quotidian objects. Life in the Abstract debuts seven new monumental sculptures that have transformed the landscape of City Hall Park. Each sculpture combines components adapted from Kahn’s abstract canvas paintings with “readymade” items like a pair of eyeglasses, clock, comb, foot and other elements from his everyday life. This juxtaposition of forms and the painterly nuance of the weather-rusted surfaces continues Kahn’s dialogue between painting and sculpture. Life in the Abstract adds to the lineage of modernist public sculpture, infusing it with both playfulness and rigor and reminding us that the creation of abstract ideas and the business of daily life go hand in hand.

Ways to Join:

VirtuallyRegister to receive a link and watch the program live-streamed.

In-person : Registration is required. Attendees must show proof of vaccination. Masks are encouraged.

Public Art Fund Talks are presented in partnership with The Cooper Union

About the Artist

Wyatt Kahn (b. 1983) lives and works in New York. Kahn is primarily known for his investigations into the visual and spatial relationship between painting and sculpture. Kahn assembles complex wall-mounted works in which the gaps between the individual canvases give rise to abstract or pictorial compositions. Rather than tracing the lines and shapes directly onto the canvas itself, he turns them into physical components of the artwork. Referencing the tradition of minimalist abstraction, Wyatt Kahn’s monochrome multi-panel ‘paintings’ are informed by a desire to explore non-illusory forms of representation. In essence, their subject becomes the interplay between two and three dimensions, as experienced via shifts in surface, structure and depth. In Kahn’s work, the wall upon which the work is hung becomes an integral part of the composition. Interested in a painting’s potential to function as the very embodiment of the object it depicts, Kahn has also developed works in which the shaped stretchers combine to create the form of an actual object, while a synthesis of hand-drawn motifs and words epitomize its essential qualities. His work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; MOCA, Los Angeles; Dallas Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, among others.

About the Talks

Public Art Fund Talks, organized in collaboration with The Cooper Union, connect compelling contemporary artists to a broad public by establishing a dialogue about artistic practices and public art. The Talks series features internationally renowned artists who offer insights into artmaking and its personal, social, and cultural contexts. The core values of creative expression and democratic access to culture and learning shared by both Public Art Fund and The Cooper Union are embodied in this ongoing collaboration. In the spirit of accessibility to the broadest and most diverse public, the Talks are offered free of charge.

Located in the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, at 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets)

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.