Painter and designer of furniture and textiles, Harold Cohen was born in London, the elder brother of artist, Bernard Cohen (born 1933). In 1948–52, he studied at the Slade School of Art, during which time he won a travel scholarship in Italy. His first solo exhibition was held at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, in 1951, followed by shows at Gimpel Fils, London, in 1954. He also exhibited work in New York while living and working there in the late 1950s.
The 1960s was a period of increased activity for Cohen. He was one of several artists featured in the influential Situation exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1965. He also represented Britain internationally at the Venice Biennale, Documenta 3, the Paris Biennale and the Carnegie International.
As an early practitioner of computer-based art, Cohen used computer-aided design (CAD) programmes to create works that illustrated the nature of human creativity and intelligence. In 1973, he instigated AARON, a research programme in the study of computer art, while working in the USA as a visiting lecturer at Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. AARON was a system designed to create art autonomously; and examples of Cohen’s resultant work were exhibited internationally at Tate, London, Brooklyn Museum in New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. A further exhibition of Cohen’s work was held at Tate in 1983. In later years, Cohen used AARON to produce a form of digital under-painting on to canvas, which he then completed as an oil painting. His works are represented in major museums and galleries around the world.
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