Session Two - June 9-15, 2019
In this class we will first approach paint from a literal, materialist point of view (thin, runny, thick, goo-ey, evidence of hand, clean), and then consider the referential ramifications of those characteristics – expressive, geometric, opulent, austere. This approach enables participants to gain greater awareness of their process, and should they choose, to clarify their intent in relation to style as it informs the substance of a work.
Cora Cohen was born in New York City in 1943. She attended Bennington College (B. A. 1964, M. A. 1972) where she studied painting with Paul Feeley and art criticism with Lawrence Alloway. Cohen has lived and worked in New York City from the seventies through to the present and intermittently in Cologne.Cohen is the recipient of many awards including the NEA (1987), the New York Foundation for the Arts (1989), the Pollock Krasner Foundation Award (1998), the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Award (2006), The American Academy of Arts and Letters Purchase Award (2012), and The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2013). Cohen is most known as an abstract painter. Her paintings, altered x-rays, and drawings have been exhibited nationally and internationally, and acquired by many institutions, including the Swedish State Art Council (Stockholm), the Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch Collection (Berlin), the Weatherspoon Art Museum (Greensboro), Yale University (New Haven), and the Neuberger Museum of Art (Purchase). In July 2018, Cohen was elected to the National Academy of Design.
Unlike photography, painting does not derive from modern, utilitarian practices but grows out of older forms of visual expression connected to the realm of the spirit. The act of painting connotes a belief in the value of individual, personal, subjective experience. It honors and perpetuates the most basic of humanist values. Although the assertion of a transcendent sublime by American modernist painting has long been in retreat, painting, as a medium and as a history, remains linked to a belief in the redemptive possibilities of the human imagination and a faith in freedom.
Keats had an idea he called negative capability:
"....several things dovetailed in my mind, & at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature which Shakespeare possessed so enormously -- I mean NEGATIVE CAPABILITY, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason..." ~John Keats
Linked to uncertainty and doubt is the potential for non-achievement and even failure. I would like to add to the notion of negative capability the notion of failure as a source of creative production. Even before Samuel Beckett, failure was a facet inextricably bound to the production of art. I like the idea of certainty being supplanted by ambivalence. Experimentation and the transitory take on importance. Questioning becomes the dominant mode. A sense of perennial search inheres in the works created with this mindset.
Website: Cora Cohen
- brushes appropriate to acrylic, or watercolour, or oil – any size
- pencils: 6B, HB; coloured pencils — Caran d’Ache preferred – as much color variety as possible
- erasers: vinyl, kneaded, pearl –– 1 of each
- paint: water color, or acrylic, or oil
- Cadmium red deep, Alizarin crimson, Cadmium yellow medium, Lemon yellow, Ultramarine blue or French ultramarine blue, Cobalt blue, Titanium white, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Mars black
- if you are interested in using acrylic or watercolour: matte medium, gloss medium,
- plastic containers for water, palette or plastic cupcake type palette
- If you are using oil: safflower oil –– large container (for clean up), rectified turpentine, stand oil, metal cans (like coffee cans), palette knife
- canvas and/or linen and/or paper
- staple gun and staples