Guide to the George M. Cohen (1919-1999) Papers

Collection Title: George M. Cohen (1919-1999) Papers
Dates: 1948-1999
Identification: 11/3/3/4
Creator: Cohen, George M., 1919-1999
Extent: 7 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: George M. Cohen, an oil painter, mixed media artist and art professor, was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 4, 1919. He studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Drake University and the University of Chicago. Cohen joined the faculty of Northwestern University in 1948, becoming a full professor in 1963. Cohen's papers fill two boxes and span the period 1951-1999. The papers fall into six categories: biographical materials, exhibit announcements and catalogs, correspondence, research files, education files, and papers.
Acquisition Information: The George M. Cohen Papers were donated to the University Archives by Frances Tietov on February 23, 2000, as Accession No. 00-57. Material from the University Archives' Biographical Files was incorporated into this series.
Processing Information: Kerry Quealy, March 2000
Separated Materials: Two photographs of Cohen were removed and added to the University Archives' Photographic Files. An inch of duplicate materials was discarded.
Conditions Governing Access: Recommendation letters in Box 5, Folder 2 are restricted and cannot be viewed without the permission of the University Archivist.
Related Materials: For more correspondence between Cohen and his circle of faculty friends, see the Walter B. Scott Papers (Series 20/29) and the Harrison Hayford Papers (Series 11/3/11/34).
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
URL: http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives
Email: archives@northwestern.edu
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

George M. Cohen, an oil painter, mixed media artist and art professor, was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 4, 1919. He studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Drake University and the University of Chicago. Cohen joined the faculty of Northwestern University in 1948, becoming a full professor in 1963.

At the Art Institute of Chicago Cohen was awarded the Isaacs Scholarship in 1938-39 and the Coolbaugh Scholarship in 1939-1940. He also served as the President of the Art Students League in 1940. His academic career was interrupted between 1941 and 1946 while he served in the U.S. Army with the 63rd Reconnaissance Troop in the European Theatre of Operations. After completing his B.F.A. at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1946, Cohen briefly attended Drake University, where he studied Liberal Arts. At the University of Chicago, he completed residence work toward an M.A. and a Ph.D. in the History of Art from 1946-48.

In 1948 Cohen joined the Northwestern University faculty as an instructor of art. He was promoted to assistant professor of art in 1952 and to associate professor in 1958. He became a full professor in 1963, a position he held until his retirement in 1984, when he became professor emeritus. As guest professor or guest artist, Cohen also taught at the Contemporary Art Workshop in Chicago in 1951, the Institute of Related Art in Wilmette in 1951, the Evanston Art Center from 1951-52, the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology from 1956-57, and the Minneapolis Museum of Art, 1963.

At Northwestern University, Cohen was a President's Fellow and Distinguished Faculty Lecturer. His numerous awards included the Copley Award, the National Foundation of the Arts Award, a Ford Arts Council Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the State of Illinois 150th Anniversary Award.

Cohen worked in oils and mixed media. A Northwestern University “Faculty Profile” describes Cohen as “a surrealist” who “combines the metaphysical with the sensuous to express new realities of space, time, and the human figure.” Cohen was a founding member of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. In the mid-fifties, he was also a part of a “new Chicago School” which included artists Leon Golub, June Leaf and Cosmo Campoli. They organized annual “Momentum Exhibitions” that caught the notice of New York critics. (See clippings from Art News, October, 1955; Arts, January, 1955.)

Cohen wrote many articles and reviews for various publications. He had many one-person shows and participated in numerous invitational exhibitions. His work can be found in permanent collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Carnegie Mellon Museum in Pittsburgh, the Minneapolis Museum of American Arts and the Hirschhorn Collection in Washington, D.C. Cohen was married to the painter Constance Teander Cohen, who died in 1995. They often showed their work together in exhibits. He had a son, Paul Cohen and two daughters, Frances Tietov and Susan Evans. Cohen died on April 18, 1999.

Scope and Content

George M. Cohen, an oil painter, mixed media artist and art professor, was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 4, 1919.  He studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Drake University and the University of Chicago.  Cohen joined the faculty of Northwestern University in 1948, becoming a full professor in 1963.

At the Art Institute of Chicago Cohen was awarded the Isaacs Scholarship in 1938-39 and the Coolbaugh Scholarship in 1939-1940. He also served as the President of the Art Students League in 1940.  His academic career was interrupted between 1941 and 1946 while he served in the U.S. Army with the 63rd Reconnaissance Troop in the European Theatre of Operations. After completing his B.F.A. at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1946, Cohen briefly attended Drake University, where he studied Liberal Arts.  At the University of Chicago, he completed residence work toward an M.A. and a Ph.D. in the History of Art from 1946-48.

In 1948 Cohen joined the Northwestern University faculty as an instructor of art.  He was promoted to assistant professor of art in 1952 and to associate professor in 1958.  He became a full professor in 1963, a position he held until his retirement in 1984, when he became professor emeritus. As guest professor or guest artist, Cohen also taught at the Contemporary Art Workshop in Chicago in 1951, the Institute of Related Art in Wilmette in 1951, the Evanston Art Center from 1951-52, the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology from 1956-57, and the Minneapolis Museum of Art, 1963.

At Northwestern University, Cohen was a President’s Fellow and Distinguished Faculty Lecturer.  His numerous awards included the Copley Award, the National Foundation of the Arts Award, a Ford Arts Council Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the State of Illinois 150th Anniversary Award.

Cohen worked in oils and mixed media. A Northwestern University “Faculty Profile” describes Cohen as “a surrealist” who “combines the metaphysical with the sensuous to express new realities of space, time, and the human figure.” Cohen was a founding member of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.  In the mid-fifties, he was also a part of a “new Chicago School” which included artists Leon Golub, June Leaf and Cosmo Campoli.  They organized annual “Momentum Exhibitions” that caught the notice of New York critics. (See clippings from Art News, October, 1955; Arts, January, 1955.)

Cohen wrote many articles and reviews for various publications.  He had many one-person shows and participated in numerous invitational exhibitions. His work can be found in permanent collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Carnegie Mellon Museum in Pittsburgh, the Minneapolis Museum of American Arts and the Hirschhorn Collection in Washington, D.C.

Cohen was married to the painter Constance Teander Cohen, who died in 1995.  They often showed their work together in exhibits.  He had a son, Paul Cohen and two daughters, Frances Tietov and Susan Evans.  Cohen died on April 18, 1999.

Addition, Boxes 3-7

This addition to the George M. Cohen Papers spans the years 1948 to 1999 and is organized into the following categories: biographical materials, exhibit announcements and catalogs, correspondence, education files, papers, and material relating specifically to Cohen’s wife, the artist Constance Cohen. Correspondence makes up the bulk of the addition.

The biographical materials are arranged chronologically, and include curricula vitae, clippings, grants and awards.  The clippings relate to both Cohen’s academic life at Northwestern University, and to his professional life as a painter.  The exhibit announcements and catalogs span the years 1948 to 1999 and document Cohen’s professional career.

The correspondence files date from the early 1940s through the late 1990s. General correspondence is arranged chronologically by decade. Subject correspondence is organized alphabetically, with the contents of each folder arranged chronologically. The many greeting cards that the Cohens received are foldered separately from other correspondence, and are arranged alphabetically by the name of the sender. Subject folders include professional and personal correspondence, including numerous letters of recommendation. Of particular interest are letters and cards Cohen sent to Jack and Irene Oppenheim while in Rome during the first half of the 1960s.

Note: For more correspondence between Cohen and his circle of faculty friends, see the Walter B. Scott Papers (Series 20/29) and the Harrison Hayford Papers (Series 11/3/11/34).

Education files fill three folders and include undated class notes from Cohen’s school days, as well as teaching notes.

Papers and Writings include Cohen’s dissertation on eighteen century French drawing for the University of Chicago, lectures, and personal writing, much of it undated.

Constance Cohen’s papers include biographical materials, clippings, exhibit announcements and catalogs, and correspondence, including a number of letters written to the Oppenheims.

Subjects

Personal Name

Cohen, George M., 1919-1999

Subjects

Art teachers--Illinois--Evanston--Biography

Art--Study and teaching--United States

Artists as teachers--Illinois--Evanston


Container List / Contents

  • Biographical Materials
    • Personal Data, 1958-1968Box 1, Folder 1
    • Clippings, 1955-1964Box 1, Folder 2
    • Clippings, 1965-1994Box 1, Folder 3
    • Northwestern News Releases, 1953-1974Box 1, Folder 4
    • Other New Releases, 1963-1968Box 1, Folder 5
    • Obituaries, 1999Box 1, Folder 6
  • Exhibit Announcements and Catalogs
    • Appearance Announcements, 1951-1968Box 1, Folder 7
    • Exhibit Announcements, 1955-1962Box 1, Folder 8
    • Exhibit Announcements, 1963-1967Box 1, Folder 9
    • Exhibit Announcements, 1968-1991Box 1, Folder 10
    • Exhibit Announcements, n.d.Box 1, Folder 11
    • Exhibit Catalogs, 1960-1969Box 1, Folder 12
    • The New Vein: The Human Figure Catalogs, 1963-1968Box 1, Folder 13
  • Correspondence
    • General Correspondence, 1957-1970Box 1, Folder 14
    • Northwestern Correspondence, 1974-1978Box 1, Folder 15
  • Research Files
    • Notes, n.d.Box 2, Folder 1
    • Notes, n.d.Box 2, Folder 2
    • Notes, n.d.Box 2, Folder 3
    • Notes, n.d.Box 2, Folder 4
    • Notes-“Illusion and Matter”, n.d.Box 2, Folder 5
  • Education Files
    • Three Notebooks, n.d.Box 2, Folder 6
  • Papers
    • “George Cohen: An American Artist” by Ruth Gustafson, n.d.Box 2, Folder 7
    • Published/Unpublished Papers, 1956, n.d.Box 2, Folder 8
  • Addition
      Separated materials:  Materials relating to Richard Ellmann and Walter Scott were transferred to the Richard Ellmann Papers (Series 11/3/11/26) and the Walter B. Scott Papers (Series 20/29). Photographs were separated and transferred to the Archives’ General Photographic collection and five inches of duplicate and extraneous papers were discarded. Scope and Contents: This addition to the George M. Cohen Papers spans the years 1948 to 1999 and is organized into the following categories: biographical materials, exhibit announcements and catalogs, correspondence, education files, papers, and material relating specifically to Cohen’s wife, the artist Constance Cohen. Correspondence makes up the bulk of the addition. The biographical materials are arranged chronologically, and include curricula vitae, clippings, grants and awards. The clippings relate to both Cohen’s academic life at Northwestern University, and to his professional life as a painter. The exhibit announcements and catalogs span the years 1948 to 1999 and document Cohen’s professional career. The correspondence files date from the early 1940s through the late 1990s. General correspondence is arranged chronologically by decade. Subject correspondence is organized alphabetically, with the contents of each folder arranged chronologically. The many greeting cards that the Cohens received are foldered separately from other correspondence, and are arranged alphabetically by the name of the sender. Subject folders include professional and personal correspondence, including numerous letters of recommendation. Of particular interest are letters and cards Cohen sent to Jack and Irene Oppenheim while in Rome during the first half of the 1960s. Note: For more correspondence between Cohen and his circle of faculty friends, see the Walter B. Scott Papers (Series 20/29) and the Harrison Hayford Papers (Series 11/3/11/34). Education files fill three folders and include undated class notes from Cohen’s school days, as well as teaching notes. Papers and Writings include Cohen’s dissertation on eighteen century French drawing for the University of Chicago, lectures, and personal writing, much of it undated. Constance Cohen’s papers include biographical materials, clippings, exhibit announcements and catalogs, and correspondence, including a number of letters written to the Oppenheims.
    • Biographical Materials
      • Personal Data, 1965-1987Box 3, Folder 1
      • Awards and Grants, 1952-1976Box 3, Folder 2
      • Clippings, 1951-1994Box 3, Folder 3
      • Northwestern Library News Letter, 1960-1965Box 3, Folder 4
    • Exhibit Announcements and Catalogs
      • Appearance Announcements and Invitations, 1948-1992Box 3, Folder 5
      • Exhibit Announcements (George Cohen), 1958-1998Box 3, Folder 6
      • Exhibit Catalogs (George Cohen), 1950-1985Box 3, Folder 7
      • Address Books, n.d.Box 3, Folder 8
    • Correspondence
      • General Correspondence, 1940sBox 4, Folder 1
      • General Correspondence, 1950sBox 4, Folder 2
      • General Correspondence, 1960sBox 4, Folder 3
      • General Correspondence, 1970sBox 4, Folder 4
      • General Correspondence, 1980sBox 4, Folder 5
      • General Correspondence, 1990sBox 4, Folder 6
      • General Correspondence, n.d.Box 4, Folder 7
      • Subject Correspondence
        • Alan Gallery, 1957-1959Box 4, Folder 8
        • Backstrom, Lars, 1962-1963Box 4, Folder 9
        • Boothby, William and Ruth, 1982-1994Box 4, Folder 10
        • Guggenheim Fellowship Correspondence, 1973-1974Box 4, Folder 11
        • Michael Findlay Gallery, 1974-1976Box 4, Folder 12
        • Museum of Modern Art, 1956-1962Box 4, Folder 13
        • Northwestern University, 1949-1984Box 4, Folder 14
        • Oppenheim, Jack and Irene, from Rome, 1961-1964Box 4, Folder 15
        • Professional Correspondence, 1956-1990Box 5, Folder 1
        • Recommendations, 1962-1992Box 5, Folder 2
        • Richard Feigen Gallery, 1959-1974Box 5, Folder 3
        • Seaberg, Ronnog and Steve, 1964-1998Box 5, Folder 4
        • Walter Scott, 1962-1975Box 5, Folder 5
        • Zabriskie Gallery, 1957Box 5, Folder 6
      • Greeting Cards
        • Cards A-F, 1959-1999Box 5, Folder 7
        • Cards G-R, 1950-1999Box 5, Folder 8
        • Cards S-W, 1954-1998Box 6, Folder 1
    • Education Files
      • Class notes, n.d.Box 6, Folder 2
      • Lecture Notes: B 70, 1972-1981Box 6, Folder 3
      • Lecture Notes: B2, C2, C5, n.dBox 6, Folder 4
    • Papers and Writings
      • Dissertation, 1946-1948Box 6, Folder 5
      • Lectures, n.d.Box 6, Folder 6
      • Personal writing, n.dBox 6, Folder 7
    • Constance Cohen
      • Biographical Materials, n.dBox 7, Folder 1
      • Clippings, 1957-1999Box 7, Folder 2
      • Correspondence, personal (Oppenheims), 1965-1966Box 7, Folder 3
      • Correspondence, professional, 1960-1995Box 7, Folder 4
      • Exhibit Announcements (Constance Cohen), 1956-1995Box 7, Folder 5
      • Exhibit Catalogs (Constance Cohen), 1963-1995Box 7, Folder 6