Gil Cohen in 2009
Gilbert B. Cohen
July 28, 1931
|Education||Philadelphia Museum School of Art|
|Known for||Aviation art|
Gil Cohen (born July 28, 1931 in Philadelphia) is an American artist, noted for his illustrations of aircraft and people in military service, who also illustrated men's magazines, books and movie posters.
Gilbert B. Cohen was born to Philip and Hannah (née Borofsky) Cohen on July 28, 1931 and raised in Philadelphia where his Russian-immigrant grandparents and father operated a hardware store. He trained as an illustrator at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art, where he studied under artists Karl Sherman, Henry C. Pitz, Albert Gold, Joe Krush and S. Gertrude Schell, and then graduated in 1953. Soon thereafter, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and assigned to a military intelligence unit in Germany where he rendered images of Soviet weaponry, based on verbal espionage reports. Upon his release from the Army, he resumed his chosen career in commercial art and illustration.
Cohen's artistic career spanned more than six decades of producing images for men's magazines, movie posters, books, government agencies, and later producing carefully researched fine-art oil paintings of aviation and war-related subjects. He also assumed both teaching and administrative duties in his field of illustration. He is an Artist Fellow of the American Society of Aviation Artists.
During the 1950s and 60s, Cohen worked as a free-lance illustrator for men's adventure magazines—a common genre of the time. One such publisher was Magazine Management Company—with magazines that included Male, Stag, and For Men Only—whose assignments required complex illustrations, executed on a short deadline, often involving duotone technique (using black plus one other color on the printed page).
A 1961 assignment for Argosy magazine to illustrate a serialized version of Ian Fleming's James Bond novel, Thunderball, led to later assignments from another publisher to illustrate book covers for the Mack Bolan series of The Executioner novels by Don Pendleton.
His illustration work expanded to more mainstream clientele that included the U.S. Information Agency, the National Park Service, Paramount Pictures, Bantam Books, Harlequin Books, Random House, Holt Rinehart & Winston, Warner-Lambert, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Guard Bureau, and the Boeing and Sikorsky Aircraft companies.
Cohen’s interest in aviation began as a youth during the Second World War, when he became proficient in identifying a wide variety of aircraft of the time. This interest was renewed, when he became interested in producing World War II aviation art, which included a series of paintings depicting the activities of the Eighth Air Force—examples of which were exhibited in a one-man show at the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force in Pooler, Georgia for six months, starting December 1988.
A retrospective of Cohen's aviation art was published in 2009. A reviewer of Cohen's body of work noted that it both presented faithful depictions of aircraft and, more significantly, focused on the people involved and the emotional energy that they brought to their activities.
He traveled under the auspices of the U.S. Air Force to theaters of conflict in Bosnia, Somalia, and Central Asia and also to Israel to create paintings that he donated to the U.S. Air Force Art Program.
In 1966, Cohen received an invitation to teach at his alma mater;[note 1] this led to a part-time position as an instructor and to increasing academic responsibilities. He taught figure drawing, anatomy and illustration over the course of 21 years.
Cohen has assumed administrative duties in the art world, as well. As part of the board of directors for the New York–based Society of Illustrators, he chaired its U.S. Air Force Art Program—providing travel opportunities for artists to depict the mission of the U.S. Air Force at bases around the world. In his work with the American Society of Aviation Artists (ASAA), he served variously as vice-president and exhibition committee chair; he received the ASAA Service Award for his work with the society.
Cohen's work was exhibited in venues that included:
- Society of Illustrators
- The National Parks Civil War battlefield sites of Appomattox Court House, Gettysburg, Mannasas, Chickamauga, and Petersburg
- Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial
- Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
- Royal Air Force Museum
- National Museum of the United States Air Force
- National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force
- Imperial War Museum Duxford Flying Legends Air Show
- Bucks County Illustrators Society
- U.S. Coast Guard Art Program
He received recognition for his work that included:
- American Society of Aviation Artists: "Best of Show" (twice), “Award of Distinction” (four times)
- British Guild of Aviation Artists: “Best of Show” by an American artist
- Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine: “Best of the Best”, "Honorable Mention"
- Central Bucks County Chamber of Commerce: "Lifetime Achievement—Bucks County Arts" and "Lifetime Achievement Award in Art"
Men's magazine artists
- The Philadelphia Museum School of Art became the Philadelphia College of Art in 1964 and then the University of the Arts in 1987.
- Cohen, Gil; Patterson, Dan; Blakeslee, Donald J.M. (2009). Gil Cohen: Aviation Artist (1 ed.). Erin, Ontario: Boston Mills Press. pp. 13–22. ISBN 9781550465129.
- Staff (2017). "Gil Cohen biography". Aviation Art Hangar. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
- Crouch, Tom D. (November 17, 2009). "Gil Cohen: Aviation Artist". Air & Space Magazine. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
- Staff (2018). "Gil Cohen". American Society of Aviation Artists. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
- Deis, Robert (January 11, 2011). "Interview with Artist Gil Cohen: Part 1 – An artist who won't be pigeonholed…". www.menspulpmags.com. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
- Staff. "Aviation art by Gil Cohen". Brooks Aviation Art. Retrieved 2018-07-20.
- Staff (2013). "BCiS: Historical Aviation Illustrator Gil Cohen". Bucks County Illustrators Society. Retrieved 2018-07-25.
- Staff. "Artist Biographies - Gil Cohen". www.uscg.mil. U.S. Coast Guard. Retrieved 2018-07-25.[dead link]
- Staff (December 18, 2006). "Art Best of the Best". Aviation Week & Space Technology. Archived from the original on 2018-08-13. Retrieved 2018-07-25.
- Staff (December 20, 2004). "Honorable Mention". Aviation Week & Space Technology. Retrieved 2018-07-25.
- Staff (2013). "Lifetime Achievement Awards Recipients" (PDF). Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce.
- Spier, John (2016). "Salute to America" (PDF). W4: Who-What-Where-When. Central Bucks County Chamber of Commerce. The Wellness Issue: 24.