Eileen Cooper RA British, b. 1953

Eileen Cooper, born in 1953 in Glossop, in the Derbyshire Peak District, is a British artist based in London and a Royal Academician since 2000. She is also the first woman to have been elected Keeper of the Royal Academy in 2010, a post she still holds today. A well-known and regarded painter, she studied at Goldsmiths College from 1971-1974, part of the students group who were selected by Jon Thompson. Amongst the senior members of staff at that time were Bert Irvin RA, Basil Beattie RA and Michael Craig Martin RA. She later graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1977, having studied painting under Peter de Francia, and soon began to exhibit her work.


She rose to prominence during the 1980s, when her strong and passionate figuration, and unapologetically female perspective to her subject-matter, attracted attention. Sometimes described as a magic realist, Eileen Cooper depicts her men and women subjects in a bold yet tender way, encompassing sexuality, motherhood, life and death in rich diverse images. Her work has always 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.”