11 For 11: David Rohn

Fern, Fan and Black Vase, 1999, watercolor.


Marguerite Serkin

The paintings of David Rohn honor symmetry and unpredictability. Working in watercolor and oil for over seven decades, Rohn creates still lifes, landscapes and portraits by combining radically independent expression with the discreet laws of natural placement.

Form and the illusory play equal parts in his paintings, as does his inimitable use of light and shadow. As though imbued with a reverential gift to portray the luminescence of everyday situations, Rohn’s watercolors and oils have a low frequency warmth and gentle sensitivity, echoing the varied sensibility of 19th century masters.

The drive to Rohn’s house in Putney, Vermont winds up a dirt road no wider than a logging trail. Leading through stands of old trees and opening onto a towering sculpture garden created by neighboring artist Charles Ginnever, one can see why Rohn credits the Vermont landscape with many of his most enduring works.

Rohn’s house resembles more a lively and serviceable home than a decorated residence. Behind the hand-pull doorbell hangs a sign with a single painted eye, reading “Door Bell: Agitate.” Inside, the living room welcomes in daylight through bay windows reaching to the ceiling. The walls are lined with paintings by beloved fellow artists, among them Frank Stout, Wolf Kahn, Emily Mason, Laura Erlanger, Ernst Benkert, Keith Haring and Gandy Brodie.

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