Thursday, December 4, 2014

Elizabeth Ann Cooper: Seattle Modernist Painter

Elizabeth Ann Cooper
Untitled Cubist Self-Portrait
ca 1930s
Oil on canvas
 Martin-Zambito Fine Art
Elizabeth Ann Cooper was a highly regarded Modernist painter who worked in Seattle during the 1920s and 30s. One of the early members of the Women Painters of Washington organization, Cooper exhibited with WPW. She participated in the Northwest Annuals at the Seattle Art Institute and the Seattle Art Museum as well.

Women Painters of Washington (WPW) began as one of the earliest arts organizations in the Pacific Northwest and remains among the few statewide women’s arts associations in the United States. The group formed in 1930 after several of the prominent regional women artists attended a class conducted in Seattle by the Canadian painter Frederick Horsman Varley (1881-1969). They were dedicated to exploring modern art techniques.  In 1937, the group produced a catalogue booklet that included their biographies and artistic statements, as well as illustrations of their work

Elizabeth Cooper was born in Nottingham, England. She emigrated to the United States and attended the Mark Hopkins Art Institute in San Francisco (now the San Francisco Art Institute). Cooper moved to Seattle in the early 1920s where she was a student at the University of Washington and studied with Walter Isaacs, Eugenie Worman, and others. 
Elizabeth Ann Cooper
Untitled Still-Life with Flowers
ca 1930s
Oil on canvas
 Martin-Zambito Fine Art


Cooper was a member of the prominent Group of Twelve, Modernist artists in Seattle that included some of the major regional painters of the period such as Morris Graves, Ambrose Patterson, and Kenneth Callahan.  Cooper was inspired by modern movements in art, including the European Post-Impressionists, Cubists, and the German Expressionists. She produced some of the most daring and progressive regional art of the period.

 In her own words:
"Aims: To interpret rather than represent, to achieve good composition, that is, fine arrangement of line, mass and color, irrespective of subject matter or emotional appeal. To stimulate in others, appreciation and understanding of the aims of modern painters, who, by individual technique, endeavor to interpret life and to communicate their aesthetic experience.."


Elizabeth Ann Cooper
Untitled Two Heads
ca 1930s
Oil on canvas
 Martin-Zambito Fine Art
Elizabeth Cooper, like so many female artists, raised two children and balanced family life while creating art. In middle age, she continued to work until her untimely death in 1936. Cooper asserted that "…Art creation is not the exclusive domain of youth. Middle age and old age find in creative art a wellspring of eternal youth. Renoir, in his eighties, did his best work. Art, like mercy, is twice blessed; it blesseth him who gives and him who takes.."

Elizabeth Ann Cooper
San Francisco Street
ca 1930s
Watercolor on paper
 J. Franklin Fine Art, Inc.
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Sources
1. An Enduring Legacy,Women Painters of Washington, 1930-2005, Whatcom Museum of History and Art, Bellingham, Washington, University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA, 2005, p. 65.
2. Elizabeth Ann Cooper, 1877-1936, http://www.womenpainters.com/75th/COOPER/Cooper.html, retrieved 12/4/2014.
4. AskArt: The Artist's Bluebook, Elizabeth Ann Cooper, http://www.askart.com/askart/artists/search/inquiry.aspx?artist=5011313&ad=160632&searchtype=ART_FOR_SALE, retrieved 12/4/2014.
5. Women Painters of Washington, http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=7644, retrieved 12/4/2014.