Brian D. Cohen
Prints & Paintings
About Brian D. Cohen
"Fail; fail again; fail better." -- Samuel Beckett
In February 2020 I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. After months of hospitalization, a bone marrow transplant, subsequent relapse, and more hospitalization, I have completed an inventory of the etchings and drypoints plates I’ve made in my lifetime. I reworked those plates I never completed or was never happy with and have hired a master printer to edition many of them.
I have been making prints for well over thirty years. I began to make prints because I had to; a printmaking course was part of the curriculum of the art program at The Putney School where I was hired to teach, and I had taken only one etching course in college, which I enjoyed, but forgot everything I had learned, dismissing the medium as decidedly secondary as I went on to finish an MFA in Painting.
To learn more, I began to make my own etchings, and soon fell in love with the medium. I learned from books and from gaps in my knowledge that showed up in my early etchings and in my own teaching. The craft, history, and look of etching grew on me, and I was, to a point, forgiving of my own incompetence, understanding that I was unlikely to be good at something I had barely ever done before. My early prints were full of surprises, good and bad; I saw that I could only rarely get what I wanted or expected. Whether I would eventually be able to, I thought, was a matter of making more and more prints. Only it wasn’t. I’ve made 700 prints and I still don’t get what I want. And that is what I learned to love about etching. My own expectations don’t seem to matter, and my competence, which I must assume has increased with practice, doesn’t seem to help much either.
Now I look at my work and reflect with some satisfaction that I continued to make art throughout my entire life, and I continue to make art now. I would like my work to be seen.
I embrace themes of loss, futility, destruction, and unexpected, redemptive beauty, themes tied to the tradition of printmaking, whose imagery has always tended toward critical commentary and serious contemplation, and often toward humor and irony as well. The process of etching is physical and elemental, requiring force and pressure, inviting aggression and then delicacy, conjoining fire, water, earth, and air. There is something about setting an image into metal that implies permanence, duration, and enduring presence, a presence I hope will endure in my work.
This website represents about 200 of the prints and 30 or so paintings that I feel good about. While I am not able myself to fulfill orders for my work, I encourage you to contact my project manager, Taryn Fisher, with your inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian D. Cohen is an educator, printmaker and painter. He founded Bridge Press in 1989 to further the association and integration of visual image, original text, and book structure. Artist’s books and prints by Brian D. Cohen have been shown in over forty individual exhibitions, including a retrospective at the Fresno Art Museum, and in over 200 group shows. Cohen's books and etchings are held by major private and public collections throughout the country, including Yale, Harvard, Brown, and Stanford Universities, Middlebury, Smith, Wellesley, Swarthmore, and Dartmouth Colleges, the University of Vermont, The New York Public Library, The Library of Congress, and the Philadelphia and Portland (Oregon) Museums of Art, as well as the United States Ambassador's residence in Egypt. Brian was the first-place winner of major international print competitions in San Diego, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC., was awarded the Best Book in Show at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Fair, and has received grants from the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Community Foundation. He was the founding director of The Putney School Summer Programs from 1987 until 2001, and was the founding artistic director of the Two Rivers Printmaking Studio in White River Junction, Vermont. Brian has taught at The Putney School since 1985 and served as Dean of Faculty. He is the illustrator of two popular natural science books Reading the Forested Landscape, and The Granite Landscape, and is a frequent contributor of artwork to literary reviews and other publications, including the Paris Review. A book of his work, Brian D. Cohen: Etchings & Books, was published in 2001. He was graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude with high honors from Haverford College and completed his Master's degree in Painting at the University of Washington. Brian is an avid collector of books and prints, rides motorcycles, and plays classical viola.