Eileen Cooper RA (b. 1953)

Eileen Cooper was born 1953 in Glossop, in the Derbyshire Peak District. She studied at Goldsmiths College from 1971-1974 being in the cohort of students who were selected by Jon Thompson. Senior members of staff at that time included Bert Irvin RA, Basil Beattie RA and Michael Craig Martin RA. She went on to study Painting at the Royal College of Art under Peter de Francia, graduating in 1977 and soon began to exhibit her work.

During the 1980s she became a major figure, well known and regarded for her strong and passionate figuration. Cooper has always taught part time in numerous institutions including St Martins, Royal College of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. She became a Royal Academician in 2001 and served as Keeper of the Royal Academy between 2010 and 2017, making her the first woman in the history of the Academy to do so.


Sometimes described as a magic realist, Eileen Cooper brings an unapologetically female perspective to her subject-matter, which encompasses sexuality, motherhood, life and death. Her richly diverse images, simultaneously bold and tender, reveal a range of feeling that is both deeply engrossing and readily accessible, yet still very much part of contemporary art practice.

Throughout her career Cooper’s work has contained a strong autobiographical element. However, her vision is always more allegorical than anecdotal, her concerns and experiences as relevant and timeless as those of the human spirit itself.

A monograph on Eileen Cooper RA written by Martin Gayford was published in May 2015. Eileen Cooper: Between the Lines is available at the RA Shop. In 2015 the exhibition Hide and Seek: Drawings by Eileen Cooper RA was held at the Royal Academy.


Royal Academician


Born: 1953 in Glossop, Derbyshire, England, United Kingdom

Nationality: British

Elected RA: 24 May 2001

Keeper from: 2011 - 2017

Gender: Female

Visit Eileen Cooper RA (b. 1953)'s website

Preferred media: Painting and Printmaking

Works by Eileen Cooper in the RA Collection

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Works associated with Eileen Cooper in the RA Collection

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Associated archives

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