Harold Cohen

Harold Cohen

Harold Cohen (1928-2016) was an internationally established painter, when he began at the end of the 1960s to explore creative possibilities using computers. This was triggered by his move from London to California caused by accepting a teaching position at the University of California, San Diego. In 1973, he began developing a system called AARON that, based on formal rules, autonomously generated drawings and paintings of increasing complexity over almost four decades. Though it was praised by “Artificial Intelligence” research, Cohen abandoned the system when he felt it had lead him into a dead-end. He returned to algorithms when he observed that his painting machine was attracting people’s attention more than his works. They had meanwhile become human portraits. – Cohen’s concept was distinctly different from those of his contemporaries like Frieder Nake, Manfred Mohr, or Vera Molnar. His position in the world of computed images was unique; an exceptional rock. Already before his turn to the computer, his work had been represented at documenta 2 and 33rd Biennale Venice. In 1977, he returned to documenta where he displayed his drawing machine in action. He was represented at exhibitions around the world in many important museums and galleries like Tate, London or San Francisco MoMA.

Harold Cohen

1928 born in London, 2016 died in April


Diploma in Fine Arts, University of London. 1951

Abbey (Rome) Scholarship, 1951

Lecturer in Art History, Camberwell School of Art, London, 1952-54

Fellow in Fine Art, University of Nottingham, 1956-59

Harkness Fellow of the Commonwealth Fund, New York, 1959-61

Lecturer in Painting, Slade School of Fine Art, London, 1961-65

Professor and Chairman, Visual Arts Department, UC San Diego, 1969-71

Professor, Visual Arts Department, UC San Diego, 1971-1994

Visiting Scholar, Computer Science Department, (Artificial Intelligence Lab) Stanford University, 1973-75

Artist in Residence, Ontario Science Center,  Summer 1984

Director, Center for Research in Computing and the Arts, UC San Diego, 1992-1998

Director of the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts at University of California, San Diego, 1992 to 1998


Receiver of the ACM SIGGRAPH Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2014

AARON, DAM GALLERY, Berlin,  26. January – 16. March 2019

COMPUTER-GRAFIK 1984, DAM GALLERY Berlin, 19. January  – 17. March 2018