Gene Kohn’s Watercolors at Auction

People / Places / Products / August 15, 2011

He started in watercolors when he was five years old, inspired by his mother, a fashion designer and devoted painter who’d live to see her own show at the Guggenheim on her 100th birthday.

In 1976, he’d join with two partners in to establish Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, designing some of the world’s tallest buildings, in New York, Paris, Korea and Shanghai.

But all the while, there were his watercolors.  His buildings could take a decade to complete, while his paintings could be finished in just a couple of hours.

“Architecture is my work, but art is my way to relax,” Gene Kohn said.  “When my friends had children, I’d take their names and make paintings out of them.  A lot of them are grown now, but they still have their paintings over their beds.  It made people happy.”

In October, His cityscapes and landscapes will be on exhibit at the Hong Kong Land Rotunda, with a silent auction to benefit cancer research at Sloan Kettering and the Hong Kong Cancer Fund.

 “This show in Hong Kong is for cancer research, because two young women in two of our offices – in London and New York – are suffering now from cancer,” he said.  “Any money earned will go to these charities.”

Though he works also in acrylics also, he favors watercolors.  “You have to do it before it dries, and you get interesting results where the colors meet each other,” he said. “It’s very free and rewarding, and not overworked.”

His palette is bright, with landscapes that tend to reflect the colors of the land itself.  But his cityscapes are another story.  His moods, he said, determine whether his cityscapes are dark and intense, or densely colorful.

“It all depends on what I’m trying to say about the city,” he said.

For more on Gen Kohn’s paintings, go to

For more on Kohn Pedersen Fox, go to

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Mike Welton

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1 Comment

on August 15, 2011

Gene’s watercolors are lovely. It’s reassuring to see the work of an architect who enjoys what he sees and records it.It makes me feel good just looking at Gene’s watercolors

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