Don Ahn (Dongkuk Ahn)

  • Born in 1937, Seoul
  • Moved to the U.S in 1962
  • Died in 2013


  • 1955-60 BFA Seoul National University, Korea, Industrial Design (2 years major in aesthetics)
  • 1962-63 Graduate Course, Miami University, Oxford, OH, Painting & Graphic Arts
  • 1963-65 MFA, Pratt Institute, New York, NY, Painting & Graphic Arts
  • 1964-65, 66-67 Art Students League, New York, NY
  • 1965-70 A.B.D. PhD., New York Univ., New York, NY, Art History

Selected Awards, Exhibitions, and Fellowships

  • 1954, 58 Group Exhibition, Korean National Art Annual (Kuk-Jun), Seoul, Korea
  • 1962 Group Exhibition, Seattle Worlds Fair, Korean Booth, Seattle, WA
  • 1963 Group Exhibition, Drawing & Prints from the Collection of J. Johnson, Cincinnati Museum of Art, Cincinnati, OH
  • 1963 First prize in painting, Dayton Art Museum, Ohio Regional Art Annual, Juror-  HowardArnason, Vice President, Guggenheim Museum, NY
  • 1964 Group Exhibition, Evansville Museum, Evansville, IN
  • 1964 McDowell Artist Fellowship, NH
  • 1971 Group Exhibition, U.S. National Print Biennial, HonoluluAcademy of Arts, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • 1998 Group Exhibition, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 1997-99 Group Exhibitions: Asian Tradition & Modern Expression: 1945-1970, Zimmerli Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
  • 1999 Group Exhibition, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan
  • 2001 Group Exhibition: Abstract Expressionism, Gary Snyder Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2013 Group Exhibition: Coloring Time; An Exhibition from the Archive of Korean-American Artist, Part One(1955-1989), Gallery Korea of the Korean Cultural Center, New York, NY
  • 1992-current Represented by Walter Wickiser Gallery, New York, NY
    Exhibitions including Zen & Void(2004), Don Ahn-Paintings from 1968 through 2005(2012), Don Ahn(1937-2013)(2014)

Don Ahn was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1937 and moved to New York, after graduating from Seoul University (BFA). Ahn attended Miami University (Graduate course), Pratt Institute (MFA) and New York University (Ph.D., Art History). Ahn’s work is greatly influenced by nature, specifically the cycles of nature and other Eastern philosophies. Ahn’s ink and acrylic paintings on canvas are reminiscent of Eastern Calligraphy and paintings, with their quick brushstrokes and elegant compositions. Ahn paints natural forms and environments, which he abstracts into brushstrokes, drips, and splatters and these works blend Eastern brush painting with Abstract Expressionist “action painting.” Another influence or concept in Ahn’s work is the dragon, a good and powerful figure from Korean and Chinese mythology, whose movements and forms Ahn suggests in whimsical ribbon-like marks and trails of paint.

Art historian and Senior Curator at the Zimmerli Art Museum at the Rutgers University, Jeffrey Wechsler remarks at “how completely even the most explosive of (the marks) ultimately resolve within the paintings as compositional pivots and focal points of visual weight, but without reducing their sense of unbound energy” which he calls a “Zen-like paradox.” He writes, “Somehow, speed becomes his medium for suggesting presence and substance.”

For more information, please download the attached file below.

Don Ahn Biography