Harold B. Cousins
An African-American sculptor who at age 33 became an expatriate in Paris from America, Harold Cousins worked in a variety of mediums including stone, wood, metal and terra cotta, and in a variety of styles from realism to total abstraction. In the 1950s and 1960s, he expressed his political views about racial integration in America with figurative works.
By the time he left for Europe, Harold Cousins had already established a professional reputation in his own country. He grew up in northwest Washington DC in an area known as “Black Broadway”. In 1943, he began studies at Howard University and was much influenced by Alaine Locke, art historian and writer who encouraged pride and interest in African art. From 1943 to 1945, Cousins served in the U.S. Coast Guard working with Sonar, and then returned to his job at the U.S. Postoffice, while studying sculpture in night classes.
In 1948, he moved to New York City and enrolled at the Art Students League where his teachers were William Zorach, Will Barnett and Reginald Marsh. He met sculpture student Peggy Thomas, and they remained partners for the next thirty years. The couple moved to Paris in1949, and studied with Ossip Zadkine in a class of a dozen students. He also exhibited at Galerie Huit, the Salon des Independents and Salon de Jeune.
Harold Cousins died in Belgium in 1992. The last two decades of Cousins’ live were marred by his ill health from oral cancer, which some persons attribute to his refusal to use a mask when he worked with oxygen-acetylene. However, he continued to exhibit and even did theatre sets for the production of “Four Penny Opera”.