Born in Germany, Kahn immigrated to the US by way of England. He studied under Hans Hofmann and later became his assistant. He enrolled in the University of Chicago and completed his degree in a year. He established, with other Hofmann students, the Hansa Gallery. He received numerous awards including the Fulbright Scholarship, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, an Award in Art from the Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Medal of Arts from the U.S. State Department. His was a unique blend of Realism combined with the formal discipline of Color Field painting. The fusion of color, spontaneity, and representation produced a rich and expressive body of work. Barns, a repeated subject for Kahn, were used to study the interaction of color, light, and form.