‘How deeply the artist penetrates the soul of man. . .’ Mittelbayerische Zeitung, 1953

‘Cohen’s sheer “painterly painting” quality is high. The canvasses instantly project a feeling of good work done by a gifted hand. One is not at all surprised to learn that he was, as a student, a prize winner. He carried off the Chicago Art Institute fellowship in 1949 and has been in Europe virtually ever since’, Meyer Levin, National Weekly, 1956

First one-man show in Paris, Galerie René Drouet, 1958

‘By the quality of his impasto, the solidity of his architecture and his profound sensibility, Alfred Cohen is amongst our best painters’, Masques et Visages, 1958

‘Alfred Cohen provides in this well-conceived show the measure of a talent in the full process of developing. His work avoids confusion and brings out the alliance of colour and form. He knows how to bring the spectator into the necessary communion with the subject. He already has in him something better that promise: a personality’, Paris Journal, 1958

‘Alfred Cohen is a delicate intimiste. His clear eye, his light hand, control with tact the power of sign and tone. This beautiful “harmoniste” knows how to renew the lesson of Bonnard. He is good, direct and natural’, Le Peintre, 1958

First one-man show in London, Ben Uri Art Gallery, 1958

‘He is a lively, gifted painter, a delightful draughtsman and something of a poet about small boats and urban corners . . . Mr. Cohen does achieve an individual and rather moving statement’, Charles Spencer, Art News and Review, 1958

‘The paintings of Mr. Alfred Cohen show that this American artist now living in Paris is completely master of his craft, one who is particularly successful with effects of space or light, and who deploys an individual range of colour’, unattributed clipping, 1958

Aspects of the Thames, Kaplan Gallery, London, 1961

‘Alfred Cohen’s Aspects of the Thames revealed him as a fresh and accessible artist of considerable accomplishment, whose abstract impressionist compositions were enlivened by an acute charm of colour’, Anita Brookner, Burlington Magazine, 1961

‘Cohen shares Kokoschka’s liking for rather hot colours, sweepingly laid on. Into these the forms melt and dissolve. However, there is form there – the pictures are on the whole strikingly well constructed, the architecture is nearly always firm and logical. . . . I admire these pictures most as virtuoso demonstrations of technical skill. They have immense panache and glitter, and yet they are self-consistent’, Edward Lucie-Smith, Arts Review, 1961

‘The one quality which dominates all the pictures to their advantage is the painter’s deft effects of light – whether of morn or eve, or sunlight or artificial light. Sometimes these effects are not without startling beauty. . . . These pictures have a visionary quality’, C. R. Cammell, New Daily, 1961

‘Alfred Cohen’s Intimist interiors at the Ben Uri Gallery in 1959 were good; his boats off the Normandy coast at the Obelisk last year were better; and his “Aspects of the Thames” now at the Kaplan Gallery are his best so far. He is a thoughtful as well as a sensitive painter, and much preliminary design has gone into these works. They are well constructed as well as being full of atmosphere. . . . Light and space are integrated with form; and the half-light of dawn, misty sun, dusk and night dissolves detail to semi-abstraction. . . . I would call these paintings beautiful’, Peter Stone, Jewish Chronicle, 1961

‘It is . . . the rich sense of colour that makes his work immediately striking and lastingly memorable. . . Look . . . at almost any few square inches of a Cohen canvas and you have a little gem of abstract painting’, Robert Wraight, Tatler, 1961

The Commedia dell’Arte, Brook Street Gallery, London 1963

‘One of the notable one-man shows seen in London this year . . . . The artist’s technical achievements are formidable. The drawings, which like Domenico Tiepolo’s on the same theme make use of a nervous pen line and wash, emphasize that Cohen is one of the best draughtsmen at work to-day. The oils . . . employ a blaze of colour or smouldering tones to establish mood. Only Picasso in one or two early works has in our time touched such depths through the characters of the Commedia dell’Arte’, Terence Mullaly, Daily Telegraph, October 1963

‘Lively and penetrating revelations of character and emotions painted in a fluid form of realistic expressionism . . . where the cutting edge of satire is never blunted into caricature. This blend of art is like a strong full-bodied wine that enhances the flavour of living’, James Burr, Apollo, 1963

‘These present works . . . are carried out with a palette that is sensuous and the pigment juicy, often worked up into a fine, yet calculated frenzy in which the stationary, tragic, almost malevolent aspect of the Commedia dell’Arte is fascinatingly fixed. The paintings are a show of force and theatricality. . . . Cohen has certainly gained a sensuous richness and a robust and vigorous way of handling his material’, Conroy Maddox, Arts Review, 1963

‘Cohen[‘s] refusal to be intimidated by the masters is fully justified by his work. . . . he knows what he is about’, Robert Wraight, Tatler, 1963

‘there is vitality, the vitality that only a natural painter has. . . . Cohen is a fine draughtsman of the brush’, Peter Stone, Jewish Chronicle

‘The artist’s obsession is contagious . . . . Cohen’s figures are metaphors . . . . It is clear now why they cannot be figures of fun but must inevitably become monuments of myths. . . .for Plato myths were “human short cuts” to transcendent realities . . . . These are Alfred Cohen’s credentials: they explain and justify his soul searching Harliquinade. . . But his personal discovery lies in the light in which he reads these long obliterated pages in mankind’s occult biography. His masks . . . verge on the horrific and they haunt the mind. Born in our world, they are verdicts on our world. . . . a daring investigation on the nature of evil’, Pierre Rouve, in Alfred Cohen: la commedia dell’arte, 1963

Second one-man show in Canada, Galerie Dresdnere, Montreal, 1965

‘An exhibition of quite extraordinary interest and quality . . . . Mr. Cohen has a sure sense of composition and an unerring feeling for color which invests a commonplace subject with a touch of magic. . . . Cohen’s drawings are superb’, Michael Ballantyne, Montreal Star, 1965

‘Recent Paintings’ (mainly of Kentish landscape and people), Brook Street Gallery, London 1965

‘He uses the inter-relationship of houses, trees, fields and roads as excitingly as any abstract painter, and as they have the feeling of their subject-matter the pictures are intensely alive both as paint and as nature’, Peter Stone, Jewish Chronicle, 1965

‘There are very few artists of today’s generation with the ability to synthesise the quality of 20th Century Ecole de l’Europe in the sense that the late impressionists and the post-impressionists did it for their epoch. Alfred Cohen is one of them, and maybe this explains his success with a wide category of collectors. Their enthusiasm is unstinting . . . . These are recognizably contemporary paintings. Cezanne’s tough palette is neatly handled and we are charmed without experiencing for a split-second any doubt that these are really good paintings. . . . There are few enough painters like him nowadays; hardly one capable of capturing the British scene in such an attractive and authoritative way’, P. Sheldon-Williams, Pictures on Exhibit, 1965

‘The last exhibition of works by Alfred Cohen at the Brook Street Gallery was significant for two reasons: the pictures marked a coherent wish to establish a technique and a style applicable both to the human figure and to landscape; there was a remarkable level of sheer painting. The most successful works were those which were the least decorative, that is to say, where colour was not only pleasing but also expressive of strong emotions. It is strong emotion that gave authority to this exhibition’, unidentified clipping, 1966?

First one-man exhibition at Roland, Browse and Delbanco, Cork St, London, 1969

‘Many subjects have engaged the expressionist fervour of Alfred Cohen; in these recent paintings, the boats and houses of the coastlines of France predominate. He reacts with a fierce passion to direct experience that is organized into a formal structure. . . . His emotional power and exuberantly vigorous response infuses his paintings with an intensity that makes much contemporary expressionism look feeble’, James Burr, Apollo, 1969

‘He was always effective and satisfying . . . but his Kentish landscapes have been a consistent breakthrough . . . . He has things in common with several good artists, but most noticeable with what de Stael might have painted had he been able to sustain himself at his best. For Cohen now uses that thick impasto in jewel-like colour-blocks that are subtly balanced. The variety of blues and greens, and of reds, that he can weigh in his balance is astonishing’, Jewish Chronicle, 1969

Second exhibition at Roland, Browse and Delbanco, 1972

‘These two gifted artists [Cohen and Norman Adams] play on the borders of abstract and representational art, basing their work on observed landscape . . . . [Cohen’s] colours are fanciful and rich. He is particularly fond of a deep range of blues, and sea-greens, and the compositions have a deliberate naiveté that is charming but never cloying’ — Marina Vaizey, Financial Times

‘Like Marquet, Cohen paints beautifully, but more warmly. . . a man who is passionately concerned about painting well, and who has also a first-rate sense of colour, deep and rich, belonging to the earth and the sea’, Jewish Chronicle, 1972

One-man exhibition, Roland, Browse and Delbanco, 1974

The paintings are generally small, the colours brilliantly vivid (predominantly blues and greens), and the treatment exquisitely painterly. . . . Cohen depicts his subjects with such obvious understanding and sincerity as to produce pictures of unusual depth’, Candy Cochrane, Arts Review, 1974

One-man exhibition, Roland, Browse and Delbanco, 1976

‘Paintings and drawings of astonishing vivacity and assurance. . . . Each one is a fully resolved picture of an obviously very intense visual sensation felt by the artist. . . . delicious . . . What a perceptive, revealing and loving eye this American turns on the people, places and atmospheres of Kent! . . . there is a fine wildness about Cohen’s pictures that instantly commands attention. . . . Brian Wallworth, Arts Review, 1976

‘Colour used as an evocative element, used with boldness but control’ — Terence Mullaly, Daily Telegraph, 1976

‘Alfred Cohen is unique. I can think of no other artist whom I have followed since his beginning and found to be literally better in each succeeding exhibition. . . . Here is a new line of free and easy drawings of characters like cartoons. You can’t pass them without a chuckle’, Peter Stone, Jewish Chronicle, 1976

One-man exhibition, Park Square Gallery, Leeds, 1977

‘Delightfully fresh paintings . . . . He combines witty observation with warm humanity and a special gift for capturing a scene in a few adroit, summary strokes. His oils appeal by their glowing colour and rich quality of paint, and his watercolours have a rare luminosity. . . . he has produced a series of coloured etchings in which his strong, incisive draughtsmanship and command of linear pattern are used with telling effect. . . . Alfred Cohen’s range is wide. . . . His love of lustrous colour and pattern comes into play in a succession of gorgeous wonderfully spontaneous flowerpieces . . . Do not miss this show,’ Yorkshire Post

‘Cohen’s paintings exemplify Anglo-French entente cordiale. . . . Like flags, Cohen’s pictures are restless, bright and jolly, transforming the everyday into festive, Carnival gaiety’ — John Jones, Arts Review, 1977

One-man exhibition, The Centre, Wells, 1980

‘The main strength of the show lies in his vigorous handling of oil. A chance . . . to see the work of a man whose international reputation is well established, a thoroughly modern exhibition’, Eastern Daily Press, 1908

‘His quality of paint and colour is superb, outlines are darkly emphasised, seascapes, boats and harbours predominate as subjects where brightly coloured seafronts, buntings, sails or a rainbow have a brittle coloured gaiety against the density of grey green sea or blue or soft red sky. Interiors are cosy, personal and slightly humorous, still lifes sing with colour’, Diana Hildreth, Arts Review

One-man exhibition, The Solomon Gallery, London, 1986

‘Full of delight. Like a series of brilliant postcards home. . . . His use of colour is never less than glorious, his seascapes blaze with light and life. There is also an appealing sense of affectionate fun. . . . Cohen paints with a bold, ambitious and cosmopolitan hand. But he retains a marvelous feeling for tiny and telling details’, Eastern Daily Press, 1986

One-man exhibition, King’s Lynn arts center, 1991

‘His exhibition . . . glows with colour. . . . There is an obvious joy in the visual world. . . . each painting is carefully crafted. Layers of paint build up to an intricate pattern of complementary colours. The structures are worked out with an almost mathematical precision, each part firmly measured against the painting as a whole. . . . invigorating’, Tony Warner, Eastern Daily Press

One-man exhibition, Rye Art Gallery, 1991
[including a series of literary portraits]

The ‘drawings are superb. . . . they are bold, strong images. . . each embodies a powerful act of interpretation. . . I love these portraits. . . . [Cohen’s] boldness is so thrilling’, Dr Eric Homberger

‘Alfred Cohen’s images . . . strike me as powerful and compelling’, Prof. Tony Tanner

‘an extrovert colourist . . . Shadow is as important as light, black makes the red sing. It is a very positive world . . . [He] has a pronounced gift as a caricaturist. . . . most visitors will feel refreshed’, Gustav Delbanco

‘Alfred Cohen’s particular strength in these portraits is to have captured the character of his ‘sitters’ so astutely. . . . Through these portraits, we are given a fresh sense of the remarkable minds which chance brought together in this corner of Sussex at the turn of the century’, Miranda Seymour, author of A Ring of Conspirators (1989)

‘Alfred Cohen is a painter worth knowing about — an American in England whose style is neither American nor English, but his own. He brings a lively colour sense to the world he sees, and an engaging wit’, Prof. Samuel Hynes

‘Alfred Cohen’s portraits of the Rye masters — Henry James, Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, H. G. Wells — immediately startle since they appear to have been just done from life. These faces, so familiar from photographs, are renewed. Cohen captures them suddenly stilled, as if just after speaking or making a gesture. The scale and framing thrusts their heads near us, their eyes curiously inward as they look out. It is a remarkable achievement.’, Prof. Eric Mottram

One-man exhibition, School House Gallery, Wighton,1994

‘Alfred Cohen is recognized as one of the finest colourists and draughtsmen living in England. . . .’, Colin Chinery, Eastern Daily Press, 1994

Obituaries, 2001

‘His favourite subjects were ports and river banks, vibrant flower compositions and searching portraits. . . . he moved to London, painting a series of evocative scenes of the Thames and recording sights on the verge of irrevocable change’, The Times

‘He . . . enjoyed a string of successful London exhibitions’, Eastern Daily Press

‘His work became increasingly sought after, by such notable collectors as James Mason, Stanley Baker, and Sam Wanamaker’, Daily Telegraph

‘Cohen . . . spent his working life in Europe . . . and produced a prodigious number of vibrant and colourful paintings. . . . Well received in France, he was equally acclaimed when he moved to London. . . . His hand-coloured etchings . . . were popular in Europe, the US and Japan’, Jewish Chronicle

‘Once in Europe he . . . made his reputation in its galleries, where his unmistakably chunky, jewel-like canvases were for several decades much sought-after’, The Independent

‘Cohen was a brilliant colourist and deft draughtsman. In London from 1960, he had sellout exhibitions with the Brook Street Gallery, and later with Roland, Browse and Delbanco. Besides reworking the subjects of the commedia dell’arte, he offered vibrant oils of the Seine, the Thames and the Channel ports, and some telling portraits – his likeness of his friend Anthony Quinn may be his masterpiece . . . . Cohen retained a restless energy. He produced witty cartoons and constructions’, Guardian

Retrospective Exhibitions at The School House Gallery and the London Jewish Cultural Centre, 2001

‘an overdue opportunity to assesss his achievement’, The Independent.

‘Alfred Cohen’s work is something of a revelation. . . . Cohen’s work shines through. . . . richly coloured crystalline canvases. . . .’ Ham and High

‘He was a grand artist, a great colourist, a forceful designer, and a highly acute observer of places and people. He also made very fine prints, with the same intelligence and wit.’ Derek Gillman, Director of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art (formerly Keeper of the Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia)

‘reveals an artist deeply attached to the landscapes and culture of Europe. . . . These scenes were captured with lively and exuberant brushstrokes and vibrant colours. There is also a rare opportunity to see examples of Cohen’s earlier work. . . . These demonstrate that, no sooner had he mastered a subject matter, he gave it up to do something completely different.’ Jewish Chronicle

‘A tale of Burns and Cohen today. Robert Burns the poet, Alfred Cohen the painter. I recommend both to your attention. Burns you will know already, Alfred Cohen you may not, given that he painted sensuously, in paint rather than in epigrams, and, like many of the best artists still alive in the last quarter of the 20th century, had to take a back seat to that institutionalised facetiousness we know as conceptualism. . . . It should, of course, be Tate Modern that exhibits him, but he’s a little hot for their whitened aesthetic. . . . And not only too hot, but too possessed of the satiric daemon. For me, although you can see the influences of Vuillard and Kokoschka and Soutine on Cohen, his best work has Daumier behind it, the vigorousness of caricature and the savage grotesqueries of the commedia dell’arte. . . . wonderfully violent paintings . . . .’
Howard Jacobson, Independent (2 February 2002)

‘Whatever the scale of the picture, whether he was presenting us with a butterfly or a Norfolk beach, there was nothing meagre or subdued about his work. He plastered on the paint but, at the same time, he could be subtle. He understood how to design a canvas. Always he was emphatic, assured and adventurous. He painted with a relish that made his pictures instantly enjoyable.’ Philip Oakes, Novelist, Poet and Critic

‘the one constant in Alfred’s work was his love of colour. . . . the sharpness of his tones, the sheer exuberance of the colour, which could almost jump from the picture surface. The iconic feel of the object was still there but it was a living thing, to be interacted with and not a solid given object of veneration. . . . Alfred also enjoyed the pure tactility of the paint itself, he enjoyed what paint could do and the way it spread itself across the canvas. Whilst perfectly capable of using paint heavily he preferred to build up his surfaces in a more subtle manner using layers of varnish and glazes to create semi-transparent layers of translucency. . . . much as Alfred was a technical painter in the best sense (he knew exactly what the paint would do and how he could achieve the effects that he was seeking) it is not technique that gives his paintings their verve and joie de vivre. It is the excitement that the painter himself brings to the task.’ Tony Warner, Art Critic

‘this man was in love with painting. . . . He talked about painting like good painters do; as it were, from the inside’. Derrick Greaves, artist

‘Alfred could really draw. . . . the work always speaks for itself and speaks clearly. . . . This is serious work. The reason that Alfred’s prints look so strong is because they are well wrought and the reason they are like that is because he knew what he was doing and what he wanted. Somewhere in this process of making prints from many elements lies a deep connection between Alfred’s painting and his colour prints. In printmaking the colour goes down in discreet layers, each layer is a separate drawing, a separate thought. The overprinting of these layers, these thoughts, can make a surface of fabulous richness and bring together seemingly disparate thoughts as a complex statement. Alfred’s paintings work in just this way . . .’ Kip Gresham, printmaker

Other Observations

‘The subject-matter of Alfred Cohen’s pictures is quite simple: the landscape, the flower-piece and the human figure, but his poetic expression is more complex. His brushwork is rapid, his design arabesque-like, but his colour sense is gentle, almost dreamlike. his blues and greens have a spiritual rather than a sensual appeal. Inviting in their lyricism, full of atmosphere, these colours render a mood difficult to forget’, Josef Herman, R.A.

‘They glow like jewels’, Yorkshire Post

‘All of his work . . . glows with with wit, exuberance and affection’, Ian Collins, A Broad Canvas (1990)

‘The art of Alfred Cohen cuts a bold dash. Dazzlingly diverse — land, sea and townscapes, portraits, interiors, still lifes and flower pieces being evoked in paintings, prints and drawings — his work is united by verve and wit. Its sheer exuberance declares an undimmed zest for life’, Ian Collins

‘his art was filled with warmth, life, affection, pleasure in the beauties and good realities of the present day’, Lady Vaizey