Access to Collection
Scope and Contents
Language of Material:
Department of Special Collections and University Archives
Title: Matt Kahn papers
Identifier/Call Number: SC1094
4.5 Linear Feet
Date (inclusive): circa 1960s-1990s
Access to Collection
The materials are partially restricted. Student grade books (box 5) and student/faculty recommendations & endoresements (box
6) are restricted 75 years from date of creation. Audio-visual materials are not available in original format, and must be
reformatted to a digital use copy.
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the
Head of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, California 94304-6064. Consent
is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission
from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner, heir(s) or assigns. See: http://library.stanford.edu/depts/spc/pubserv/permissions.html.
Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research
and educational purposes.
[identification of item], Matt Kahn Papers (SC1094). Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University
Libraries, Stanford, Calif.
Matt Kahn was born on May 29, 1928, in New York City, the son of Jess and Julia Kahn. He studied at Cranbrook Academy of Art
in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., where he met Lyda Weyl, his wife and partner in life and work
When he was 21, Kahn joined Stanford's Department of Art (now the Department of Art and Art History). That was in 1949, and
over the following 60 years he created pioneering coursework in design and also taught painting, drawing, sculpture and color
Kahn was appointed assistant professor in 1953 and professor in 1965. He was the director of the U.S. State Department Craft
Development Program in Cambodia in 1957-58 and taught frequently at Stanford's overseas studies program in Florence, Italy.
In 1993 he received the Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching and was heralded for his "consistent vitality and enthusiasm"
and for being "an opener of doors, a stimulus and guide to the realm of possibilities" who "creates a dazzling environment"
for his students.
Kahn's teaching career has focused on design, where he was an active and influential mentor to generations of aspiring designers
and talented students. While at Stanford, Professor Kahn also worked as an artistic consultant to Eichler Homes, the developer
of modernist homes in California in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1957 and 1958, he served as Director of the U.S. State Department's
Craft and Development Program in Cambodia. Professor Kahn has garnered national prominence for his exploration of multiple
art forms, from painting to sculpture, textiles, metalwork, furniture design and interiors. Over the years, he has participated
in multiple exhibitions at major institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Portland Art Museum in
Oregon, and the Museum of Craft+Design in San Francisco.
Kahn retired from teaching in 2009 but continued to guest lecture for his colleagues until 2011.
He traveled extensively and was influenced by the richness he found in tribal cultures and art from around the world, much
of which he collected and displayed in his iconic Eichler home on the Stanford campus. Matt and Lyda Kahn designed their home
during the many years they collaborated with Joseph Eichler. It was featured in the
New York Times Magazine in 2001.
Kahn's paintings, a blend of precise design, inventive form and a sharp sense of humor, were inspired by nature, humanity
and the classical music he loved. His work is included in several art books and has been shown in solo and group exhibitions
in Italy and the United States, including shows at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern
Art, the de Young Museum in San Francisco and several exhibitions at the Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery commemorating
milestones in his teaching career.
Kahn died June 24, 2013. He is survived by his son, Ira (AB Art '72), and daughter, Claire (AB Art '77).
Scope and Contents
Materials include professional files, teaching files (including videos of lectures), and photographs.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Art -- Study and teaching.
Universities and colleges -- Faculty.
Stanford University -- Faculty.