Cowling, Elizabeth

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Cowling, Elizabeth


ADDRESSES: E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Art historian, educator, and writer. René Magritte Catalogue Raisonn, senior editor, 1992-96; University of Edinburgh, Scotland, faculty member.

AWARDS, HONORS: Apollo Book of the Year, 2002, and British Academy Book Prize, 2003, both for Picasso: Style and Meaning.


On Classic Ground: Picasso, Léger, de Chirico, and the New Classicism, 1910-1930, Tate Gallery (London, England), 1990.

Picasso: Sculptor/Painter, Tate Gallery (London, England), 1994.

(Coeditor and contributor, with Keith Aspley and Peter Sharratt) From Rodin to Giacometti: Sculpture and Literature in France 1880-1950, Rodopi (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 2000.

Picasso: Style and Meaning, Phaidon Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Visiting Picasso: The Notebooks and Letters of Roland Penrose, Thames & Hudson (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to books, including Dada and Surrealism Reviewed, Arts Council, 1978; Richard Carline 1896-1980, Camden Arts Centre, 1983; Surrealism and After: The Gabrielle Keiller Collection, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1997; Matisse Picasso, Tate (London, England), 2002; and Pablo Picasso und Jacqueline: Vorletzte Gedanken, Kerber (Bielefeld, Germany), 2005; contributor to periodicals, including Art History and Apollo.

SIDELIGHTS: Elizabeth Cowling is an art historian whose interests include the artists Magritte, Matisse, and Picasso. She is a contributor to numerous art catalogs, including Matisse Picasso. According to Library Journal contributor Sandra Rothenberg, the catalog “is the first.…. to examine the visual dialog between the great 20th-century artists Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.” The book includes 220 color illustrations. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that “the mini-essays are of high quality.”

The author has also served as editor and author of several art books. In From Rodin to Giacometti: Sculpture and Literature in France 1880-1950, Cowling and coeditors Keith Aspley and Peter Sharratt present fourteen essays focusing on sculptors and their creations. Cowling also contributed an essay to the book titled “Metaphor in Picasso’s Sculpture.” Writing in Modern Language Review, Andrew Rothwell noted that in her essay Cowling “demonstrates with great insight and economy that his sculptural metamorphosis of objects can fruitfully be regarded as a praxis of plastic metaphor.”

Picasso: Style and Meaning was called the “definitive text on the relationship between Picasso’s fathomless curiosity of life and his appropriation-approach to art” by Rebecca J. Martin in School Arts. In her book, Cowling presents an in-depth analysis of Picasso’s works and how they evolved over a nearly fifty-year period. “This is quite a good book,” wrote Philip Hensher in the Spectator.

In her 2006 book, Visiting Picasso: The Notebooks and Letters of Roland Penrose, Cowling tells the story behind Penrose’s early recognition of Pablo Picasso’s genius and his support of the artist over many years. A surrealist author and founder of the London Gallery and Institute of Contemporary Arts, Penrose met Picasso in 1938 while organizing the first London art exhibit for surrealists. The author went on to become a close confident of Picasso and wrote a biography of the artist. “Penrose ‘translated’ Picasso for the British public, and Elizabeth Cowling shows just how much anguish went into this Herculean task, how much hurt, how much rejection Penrose absorbed in the pursuit of his aim—the greater glory of Picasso,” wrote Judith Flanders in the Spectator. Clare Finn noted in Apollo: “To say that Cowling has quoted at length from Penrose must not, however, be thought to downplay what she has done.” Finn also wrote in the same review: “The book, which is packed with opinions and information, manages to be both a resource for Picasso scholars and a hugely readable memoir for the non-specialist.”



Apollo, July, 2006, Clare Finn, “The Man Who Was Married to Picasso: Clare Finn Welcomes the Publication of the Notes That Roland Penrose Kept of His Meetings with Picasso, Which Form an Unexpected Portrait,” review of Visiting Picasso: The Notebooks and Letters of Roland Penrose, p. 62.

Financial Times, June 3, 2006, Jackie Wullschlager, “The Intoxicated Admirer: The Man Who Championed the Work of Picasso Long before the Rest of the World Had Recognised His Genius Was at Once Brilliantly Perceptive and Dangerously Obsessed,” p. 28.

Library Journal, March 15, 2003, Sandra Rothenberg, review of Matisse Picasso, p. 80.

M2 Best Books, December 3, 2003, “Elizabeth Cowling Wins British Academy Book Prize.”

Modern Language Review, April, 2001, Andrew Roth-well, review of From Rodin to Giacometti: Sculpture and Literature in France 1880-1950, p. 517.

Publishers Weekly, February 10, 2003, review of Matisse Picasso, p. 179.

School Arts, September, 2005, Rebecca J. Martin, review of Picasso: Style and Meaning, p. 60.

Spectator, September 21, 2002, Philip Hensher, “In the Steps of the Master,” review of Picasso: Style and

Meaning, p. 40; May 13, 2006, Judith Flanders, “The Master and the Loyal Retainer,” review of Visiting Picasso.


British Academy Web site, (September 26, 2007), “Result of the British Academy Book Prize 2003.

University of Edinburgh History of Art Web site, (September 26, 2007), faculty profile of author.*

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