Public Art Fund Talks: Wyatt Kahn


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. Khan’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. 

Join Virtually: Register to receive a link and watch the program live streamed. 

Join In-person at The Cooper Union’s Frederick P. Rose Auditorium: 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.