SCOTT KAHN (B. 1946)
SCOTT KAHN (B. 1946)
SCOTT KAHN (B. 1946)
SCOTT KAHN (B. 1946)
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more
SCOTT KAHN (B. 1946)

Croquet

Details
SCOTT KAHN (B. 1946)
Croquet
signed and dated 'Scott Kahn '92' (lower right); signed, titled, inscribed and dated 'CROQUET KAHN 1992 ©1992 by Scott Kahn all rights reserved' (on the overlap)
oil on linen
36 1/8 x 32in. (91.8 x 81.4cm.)
Painted in 1992
Provenance
Private Collection, Switzerland (acquired directly from the artist in 1996).
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Tessa Lord
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Lot Essay

Acquired directly from the artist in 1996, Croquet (1992) is a visionary landscape by Scott Kahn. The work was painted during a period in which Kahn was living in a sea-view flat in Brighton, East Sussex, and depicts the easternmost house on the historic Lewes Crescent: one of these grand Victorian mansions, with a secret tunnel to the seafront, is said to have inspired Lewis Carroll to write Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The building sits to the left of a garden of rolling green lawns, whose every blade has been picked out with obsessive attention. At the centre, framed by dark, windswept trees, is an abandoned croquet game. An empty white bench faces away from the pitch. Beyond is the sea—painted with shimmering waves, and a cluster of white boats that echo the croquet hoops below—and a vast blue sky filled with dramatic, otherworldly red clouds. A wrought-iron gate in the foreground places us at a remove from the scene, heightening its tenor of surreal mystery.

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1946, Kahn received his BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1967. The following year he studied at the Arts Students League, New York, under Theodoros Stamos, where he encountered first-generation Abstract Expressionists including Mark Rothko. He earned his MFA in painting from Rutgers University in 1970. Initially working in a mode informed by artists such as Kenneth Noland, Frank Stella and Helen Frankenthaler, Kahn discarded abstraction altogether when he began to feel it didn’t adequately reflect his own lived experience. He spent four years living in Sag Harbor, at the end of Long Island, teaching himself to paint landscapes, still lifes, interiors and portraits from life. He views this time as his most important period of learning, and considers himself a self-taught artist. On his return to New York City, in the absence of beautiful views from his window, Kahn began to draw upon his imagination, dreams and memories, and his work took on the more fantastical quality for which he is best known today. With a miniaturist’s eye for detail and a cinematic sense of staging, he has continued to develop this style over the past four decades.

Croquet conjures an uncanny, dreamlike aura worth of Alice’s journey through the rabbit-hole. In the absence of human figures, every detail from the rosy clouds to the rich, meticulously detailed foliage seems alive with symbolism, narrative intrigue and anthropomorphic presence. Kahn, however, sees his works as essentially diaristic: while they contain imaginary elements, all are ultimately drawn from real-life experience. In this sense, landscapes such as the present have as much in common with the Surrealism of René Magritte as they do with the Expressionism of Vincent van Gogh, whom Kahn greatly admires, and whose visions of actual places were shaped and coloured by his internal consciousness. ‘It’s so moving and so compelling’, he says of van Gogh’s work. ‘When you see one of his paintings, it’s like there is no distance between your soul and the artist’s soul. It’s that straightforward and that direct’ (S. Kahn, quoted in ‘Interviews we love: Scott Kahn’, RDN Arts, 2 June 2021). In all its enigmatic splendour, Croquet plunges us no less directly into Kahn’s unique way of seeing the world.

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