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
Language of Material: English
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:
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 theory.
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
Kahn retired from teaching in 2009 but continued to guest lecture for his colleagues until
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
York Times Magazine
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
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Art -- Study and teaching.
Universities and colleges -- Faculty.
Stanford University -- Faculty.