Friday, July 20, 2012

Gil Cohen: Populating Aviation Art

I chanced upon the above book recently, for some reason never having heard of Gil Cohen even though I'm aware of quite a few other artists of the Aviation Art genre. That might be because Cohen normally doesn't paint aircraft that are airborne. Moreover, his focus is on people associated with aircraft, not the planes themselves. (The only other artist who quickly comes to mind for following the same path is James Dietz.)

The most detailed Internet biographical information that I could locate on Cohen is here. In brief, he was born and raised in Philadelphia (on South Street, for those of you who know the town). His art training was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art School, now the University of Arts, where he later taught part-time for 20 years while carrying on with his career as a professional illustrator. Much of his illustration work was for men's magazines, though he also did book covers for romance novels and some general-interest titles.

This is spelled out in the book, which I found interesting. Besides outlining his career and describing (and showing) the steps he takes when doing his aviation paintings, he discussed the origins of each of the paintings in the book along with accounts relating to his thought process when planning the depictions. My main gripe regarding the book is that, because his paintings tend to be panoramas, they are spread across the inter-page gutter and sometimes important details are lost.

Below are examples of Cohen's work; click to enlarge (some will and others won't).


Magazine cover: Male - May 1967
Most of the male mag illustrations he did strike me as being rushed. But then the pay probably didn't justify all-out efforts. This one is more finished than many of the others.

Photo of Cohen and Robert Rosenthal with painting
The painting is titled "Rosie's Crew / Thorpe Abbotts, 1943" (2001), showing Rosenthal and his flight crew gathered just before a bombing mission over Germany. For more information on Rosenthal's outstanding Army Air Forces career, click here.

"Coming Home / England, 1943" - 1990
A surviving aircrew at the end of a mission.

"After the Mission" - 1993
Even though aircrews were exhausted and perhaps more then a little shaken after a bombing mission, they had to go through a debriefing process for the benefit of intelligence officers who were looking for any changes in German air defenses as well as potential flaws in Eighth Air Force practices.

"Requiem for Torpedo Eight" - 2004
The scene is the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Hornet (CV-8) on 4 June 1942, the crisis point of the Battle of Midway. The torpedo bombers of Squadron 8 attacked the Japanese fleet at low level and were all shot down. Only one man survived, Ensign George H. Gay shown piloting the TBD Devastator beginning its takeoff run.

1 comment:

dearieme said...

Here's an unexpected source of illustrations - youtube.