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Dan Kuhne: A Retrospective - Online Exclusive - Exhibitions - About Bethesda Fine Art

Molten Molt, c. 1972

acrylic on canvas

74" x 87"

Dan Yellow Kuhne represents a cadre of artists who took up the legacy of the Washington Color School a decade after the original artists. This exhibition reviews the course of Kuhne's career and how his work has evolved but retained a commitment to his signature technique and use of color.

Coming out of the University of Maryland, Kuhne was inspired by his Color School predecessors and their exploration of color as form. It was around this time that Kuhne adopted the fitting nickname “Dan Yellow,” after a friend referred to him as “Daniello," and he liked how the moniker sounded like his favorite color.

Kuhne took classes from Gene Davis and exhibited around the DC area in the 1970s at venues like the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the University of Maryland. After a successful show at Jacob’s Ladder Gallery in 1972, the Phillips Collection hosted a solo show of his watercolors the following year. The curator, Richard Friedman, called Kuhne “the most talented newcomer” working in the tradition of the Washington Color School. The show met positive reviews in The Washington Post and The Evening Star and Daily News. The Post reviewer, Paul Richard, remarked that "[Kuhne's watercolors] are full of subtle, carefully controlled color, and of local history as well," particularly noting the influence of Kenneth Noland and Morris Louis. However, Richard remarked that Kuhne’s work was “freer” in contrast to the more rigid, hard-edge style of other Color School artists.

To create his work, Kuhne first draws out his imagery in pencil. He then applies paint directly from the tubes and dilutes the pigment with washes to stain the surface with color. The combination of “bars of pigment and attached flowing veils,” as described by Friedman, results in imaginative forms open to the viewer’s interpretation. This technique was used in Kuhne's notable Dog Eared series, comprising approximately 45 canvases created between 1970-74. His interest in strong contrasting colors and technical and structural exploration remains evident today.

Kuhne continues to exhibit in the DC area, recently in Full Circle: Hue and Saturation in the Washington Color School at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery at the Corcoran School of Arts & Design in 2018. His works are in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, University of Maryland, Baltimore Museum of Art, American University Museum, and many others.