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On December 7, artist Wyatt Kahn spoke about his work on the occasion of his first public art exhibition, Life in the Abstract. Kahn’s talk at The Cooper Union addressed his multidimensional practice that encompasses painting, drawing, and sculpture, with a focus on his Public Art Fund exhibition, 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.

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.