Saturday, May 16

Artwork of Emil Kosa, Jr.

Today’s art blog is on Emil Kosa, Jr. and follows my last blog about California Regional Artists 1920s – 1950s. We visited the exhibition, California Regionalism: Oils on Canvas, at the California Heritage Museum when we were in Santa Monica recently. I liked all the paintings on exhibit, but was particularly drawn to those of Emil Kosa, Jr.

’s works stood out to me because of the way he used light and shadow in an almost chiaroscuro effect to heighten the drama of his motifs. I don’t recall exactly how many of his paintings are in the exhibition, at least five I think, but each one successively got my attention more.

I was not familiar with Kosa’s work or, actually, any of the other artists either. But I liked his paintings so much that I decided to do a little online research about him.

From the Calart website I found out he was born in Paris and lived from 1903 to 1968. In the 1920s he moved to California and worked with his father producing murals and other large decorative art projects in addition to commissioned portraits and fine art for galleries. In the 1930s he was encourage by Millard Sheets to pursue his talent in watercolor in addition to oils. He “was among the first California Style watercolorist whose work brought attention to the West Coast watercolor style,” and was a prominent member of the National Watercolor Society. Another site mentioned that he studied at the California Art Institute in Los Angeles in 1927. Today's Image is one of Kosa's watercolors.

This is interesting. Living in LA, Kosa also worked in the film industry. His father worked on special effects for the 1951 movie The Day the Earth Stood Still. Kosa Jr. was a matte artist at 20th Century-Fox for more than 30 years. He is known for his painting of 20th Century-Fox’s searchlight logo. It was mentioned that his best known work in the film industry was probably the ruined Statue of Liberty in the movie Planet of the Apes. The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) website provides his complete filmography. And--he also won an Academy Award (Oscar) in 1964 for Special Effects in the movie Cleopatra. How about that?

On the California Watercolor website, where you can see some of his work, I found out that in the 1950s Kosa was known for his portrait work of movie stars and other prominent people. His portrait of Earl Warren of California hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

In addition to being included in the exhibit, two of Kosa’s fine oil paintings are featured on the brochure and take-away promoting the California Regionalism show. They are The Big Top, circa 1950 and Looking Towards the Civic Center, circa 1940.

In 2004 the California Heritage Museum hosted an exhibition similar to the 2009 Oils on Canvas except it featured watercolors and was called Everyday Life in California, Regional Watercolors 1930-1960. All of the exhibited paintings were published by the museum in a book of the same name.

I’m so glad we visited the exhibit at the California Heritage Museum and became acquainted with Emil Kosa, Jr.’s artwork.


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