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 Emil Jean Kosa, Jr.  (1903 - 1968)

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: regional landscape, figure-nude and still life painting

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Ad Code: 2
Emil Jean Jr Kosa
from Auction House Records.
Los Angeles City Hall and Times Building from Bunker Hill
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Martin Wolpert, Los Angeles, California:

Emil Kosa Jr. was born in Paris, France on November 28, 1903.  His father was a Czech artist.  He moved to the United States with his family at the age of four.

Kosa studied at the Prague Academy as a teenager and then at the California Art Institute in Los Angeles in 1927.  He returned to Paris later in 1927, and studied under Pierre Laurens at l'École des Beaux-Arts.  In 1928, he returned to Los Angeles and studied and later taught at Chouinard and the Otis Art Institutes.

Kosa spent the last 35 years of his life working for 20th Century Fox studios as a special effects artist.  In 1963 he won an Oscar for his work on Cleopatra. During this time Kosa, along with maintaining a studio-home in LA, decorated churches, theatres, and private homes and continued teaching in Laguna Beach, California.

Kosa exhibited at Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1940, the Biltmore Salon in Los Angeles in 1941.  He also showed his works in many other locals nationally including the Carnegie Institute, the Denver Museum, and the Frye Museum.  He won dozens of awards in California and nationally from 1928-1961.  He is represented in many museums across the United States including the LACMA, the Santa Barbara Museum, the Boston Museum of Fine Art, and the San Diego Museum.

Kosa worked in both watercolor and oil. He painted many portraits including the official portrait of Governor Earl Warren.  He also painted landscapes, seascapes, figures, and floral works.

The most interesting aspect of Kosa's body of work is that he had several different styles.  He is well known and appreciated in the circle of California Plein-Air painters and watercolorists, but he was also painted many symbolist and modernist paintings.  In these more expressive works can be seen the influence of his studies in Prague and Paris. Many of his paintings are moody, and somber; a stark contrast to his scenes of California landscapes.  He produced a number of abstract works as well, showing the influence of Kupka who he had studied .

Kosa JR. died in Los Angeles on the 4th of November 1968.


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Paris France, Emil Kosa Jr. was a prolific and much recognized painter of California landscapes, cityscapes, figures and florals.

He was the son of a Czechoslovakian artist and came to the United States in 1907.  As a teenager, he returned to Europe to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.  In the late 1920s, he settled a home and studio in Los Angeles and studied and taught at the Otis and Chouinard Art Institutes.

In the 1930s, he began a thirty-five year career as a special effects artist for Twentieth Century Fox studios, and in 1964, won an Oscar for the movie, Cleopatra.  He continually remained active as a watercolor painter, helping create the "California Style", devoted to watercolor painting of regional subjects.   He was also very active in the Laguna Beach art community as a teacher.

He was an elected member of the National Academy of Design.

Source:
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940


Biography from CalART.com:
EMIL KOSA JR.(1903-1968)... Born: Paris, France

Studied: Academy of Fine Arts (Prague), Ecole des Beaux Arts (Paris), Chouinard Art Institute (Los Angeles)

Member: National Academy of Design, American Watercolor Society~ California Water Color Society, Philadelphia Water Color Club, New York Water Color Club.

Emil Kosa, Jr. received art instruction and music lessons at a very early age. When he was in his late teens, he had to decide between being a professional musician or artist. He chose art, but his family and instructors believed he could have been a famous musician had he chosen that occupation.

In the 1920s, he moved to California, but returned to France several times to continue his art education. He received traditional painting instruction from Pierre Laurens and studied non-objective painting with Frank Kupka. After settling in California in 1928, he worked as a mural artist and operated a business with his father that produced decorative art for churches and auditoriums. When that line of work was Slow, he took on portrait commissions and sold fine art paintings through local galleries.

In the early 1930s, Kosa became friends with Millard Sheets and with Sheet's encouragement, began aggressively pursuing a national reputation as a California watercolor artist. He sent up to sixty watercolors every year to museum shows all over America and was among the first California Style watercolorist whose work brought attention to the West Coast watercolor style. He was an active member of the California Water Color Society and served as president in 1945. Kosa was one of the first of the California watercolorists to be accepted into annual shows in New York City at the National Academy of Design and in the American Watercolor Society shows.

To financially support his family, Kosa worked as a scenic artist in the special effects division at Twentieth Century-Fox Studios for thirty-five years. He produced art for matt shots and was known as a top artist in this field. The motion picture industry acknowledged his contributions and awarded him an Oscar for his special effects work for Cleopatra.

A compulsive painter, Kosa would often paint for three or four hours after dinner each night and spend most of his weekends outdoors, painting with watercolors or oils. Alexander Cowie was his Los Angeles agent and the Macbeth Gallery sold his work in New York City. The Cowie Gallery, located in the Biltmore Hotel, had several one-man shows every year and included his work in all of their group showings.

Through his studio connections, he also produced a large number of commissioned portraits for movie stars, businessmen and politicians. In the 1950s, he was known as the premier portrait painter in Southern California. His official portrait of Earl Warren from this era, is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Kosa is best known for his representational watercolors and oils, but also won awards for pencil drawings and pastels depicting figurative subjects and prints. During the 1940s and through the mid-1960s, he occasionally revisited his interest in non-objective art and produced a body of work which expresses his love for music and experimental art concepts.

Source:
Gordon T. McClelland and Jay T. Last, California Watercolors 1850-1970 whose information was based on interviews with Elizabeth Kosa, George Gibson, and Marian Kosa Saund, 1988.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


Emil Kosa, Jr. is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
The California Art Club
California Painters



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