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international painting annual 4 exhibition-in-print
online resource

Christopher Cosnowski
Chicago, Illinois

American Academy of Art, Chicago, Illinois, Instructor

detail image


American Metal

Trophies play a major role in American life.  Capitalism is essentially rooted in the idea of winning.  Trophies are the carrot leading the horse, a symbol of hope and desire for the ninety-nine percent.  These paintings envision our trophy-world – shiny and superficial.  The metal, however, is an illusion, spray-plated plastic, no real weight - an apt metaphor for a country that no longer manufactures anything.  All of these figures are proudly standing on a marble base - symbolic of our institutional traditions.  In reality, these trinkets are no more than six inches high.  The paintings enlarge the figures not to human size, but to half human-size as if they are desperately trying to assert their importance.  The various figures are used to represent different aspects of our society. The rodeo trophies illustrate our romanticized past – the wild west in all its rugged testosterone-soaked glory.  The cheerleaders embody our obsession with sports and its accompanying misogyny.  The motorcross statuette typifies our love of speed, daredevils and gasoline.  The bodybuilder pokes fun at the prevailing image we have of our country as mighty and heroic as well as demonstrating our preoccupation with physical beauty.  Finally, the policeman depicts the country's need for excessive security just to live "freely" today.  Another narrative is created in the paintings when the viewer becomes aware of my reflection occurring throughout the trophies.  The mini-self portraits acknowledge my own desires for success as well as my participation in the system I purport to critique.

America is ostensibly a meritocracy, and I think we can all agree that hard work, creativity and integrity should be rewarded.  American exceptionalism, however, seems to have been largely replaced with greed and a craving for celebrity.  American metal (mettle) used to mean something solid.





born: 1968, Charleston, South Carolina



Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois , MFA 2000

Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, Ohio, BFA 1992


selected awards/honors

Finalist Award, Illinois Arts Council, 2001

Scholarship, Union League Civic and Arts Foundation, 2000


selected publications

New American Paintings #107

The Edge of Realism, American Art Collector, December 2006

A Spotlight on Living Artists, Crow Woods Publishing, 2003

New American Paintings #35


selected solo or two-person exhibits

Enlightened?, Linda Warren Projects Chicago, 2014

SUPER-ficial: A Chris Cosnowski Retrospective, South Shore Arts Association, Munster, Indiana, 2013

Lyonswier Gallery, American Metal, New York City, New York, 2012

Apocalypse, Linda Warren Projects, Chicago, 2010


selected group shows

Contemporary Painting, University of St. Francis, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 2014

Playing Around, Brattleboro Museum of Art, Brattleboro, Vermont, 2009

Unseriously/Serious, Linda Warren Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, 2007

10 Years – A Retrospective, Dolby-Chadwick Gallery, San Francisc, California, 2006



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