Alfred Cohen: An American Émigré in Europe

Landscape picture of a sun set i Alfred Cohen, Late Winter Sky

Alfred Cohen (1920-2001) was an American whose art was firmly rooted in the European tradition, and who lived and worked in Europe after the war, settling in England in 1960.

He exhibited successfully in London through the 1960s and 70s. His paintings and drawings are represented in numerous major national and international collections.

With the return of interest in figurative painting, Cohen’s work has been sought after by collectors and museums. In 2016 the Sainsbury Centre of Visual Art acquired an important group of his pictures.

As Cohen’s centenary in 2020 approaches, the study day will explore and evaluate the full range and significance of his work. It will assess his place in the Anglo-American art worlds of the time, and examine his unique synthesis of the Ecole de Paris and abstraction.



9.30 – 10.00 Registration

10.00 Welcome by David Peters Corbett Professor of American Art; Director, Centre for American Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art)

10.10 Introduction – Dr Paul Zuckerman (Former Senior Economist at the World Bank, Treasurer of the Art Fund, and Chair of the Board of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts)

10.30 – 11.30 Professor Max Saunders (Director, Arts & Humanities Research Institute and Co-Director, Centre for Life-Writing Research, King’s College London): ‘A Biographical Introduction to Alfred Cohen’s Life and Work’

11.30 – 12.30 Contexts for Alfred Cohen’s Work – Chair: Max Saunders

David Herman, television producer, cultural critic and journalist): ‘The Meanings of Paris in the art world after the Second World War’

Dr Claudia Milburn (Senior Curator, Pallant House Gallery): ‘Alfred Cohen: Influences and Inspirations’

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch (provided for the speakers only; Seminar Room 1)

13.30 – 15.00 Contexts, continued – Chair: David Peters Corbett

Tricha Passes (Department of History of Art, Bristol University): ‘The influence of Georges Rouault on the art of Alfred Cohen’

Patrick Bade (Historian, writer and broadcaster): ‘Alfred Cohen and London

Alice White (prize-winning artist and Associate Lecturer, Central St Martins College of Art & Design): ‘A Modern Painter’s Perspective’

Jesse Matz (William P. Rice Professor of English and Literature at Kenyon College; author of Lasting Impressions): ‘Jewishness and the Legacies of Impressionism: Alfred Cohen’s The Rabbi from Dublin

15.00 – 15.30 Tea/Coffee Break (Seminar Room 1)

15.30 – 17.00 Quick-Fire Round of Short Talks on Individual Pictures – Chair: Max Saunders

This session also included some short musical pieces responding to Cohen’s work.

Professor Richard Howells (Professor of Cultural Sociology, King’s College London)

Nick Metcalfe (television and film producer)

Sula Rubens (artist)

Dr Jerome Boyd Maunsell (author, Susan Sontag (2014), and Portraits from Life. 2018)

Dr Hope Wolf (Curator and Lecturer and Co-director of the Centre for Modernist Studies, University of Sussex, author of Sussex Modernism and Grace Pailthorpe and Reuben Mednikoff – forthcoming)

Dr Laura Colombino (lecturer on literature and visual culture, University of Genoa)

Alison Dunhill (artist)

Dr Tom Overton (Archive curator at Barbican Centre & postdoctoral fellow at Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Berger’s authorized biographer. Ed Portraits: John Berger on Art and Landscapes: John Berger on Art)

Maryanne Saunders (Department of Theology and Religious Studies, KCL)

Raphael Sieraczek (FRSA, Director, author of Imagine a Spectacle)

Dr Alisa Miller (Research Associate, King’s College London, and former Director of Research, Norwich School of the Arts)

Professor Peter Marks (Dept. of English, University of Sydney)

Dr Devorah Baum (Lecturer in English Literature and Critical Theory, University of Southampton; author of Feeling Jewish (A Book for Just About Anyone) (2017), and The Jewish Joke. 2017)

John Millwood (Norfolk Art Curator and Trustee, The Alfred Cohen Art Foundation)

17.00 – 18.00 Concluding Panel Discussion – Chair: Paul Zuckerman

Alice White, Max Saunders, Tricha Passes, David Herman

18.00 – 19.30      Reception (Front Hall)

This event has passed.

14 Jun 2018

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London