Harold B. Cousins US, 1916-1992


“…one might say that art, like science, is a constant probing of the unknown – a seeking. I believe an artist should make art that he feels relevant to his day, taking into account the works of artists of the past. The empty spaces within and around a sculpture pose a challenge that has become for me almost an obsession.”


- Harold B. Cousins

Harold Cousins was a revered modernist sculptor, born in Washington D.C., a graduate of Howard University, and a World War II veteran of the US Coast Guard.


As an African-American, Cousins knew that many opportunities for growth in the art world would be barred to him in the United States. Eager to pursue his artistic career, Cousins migrated to Paris after the war along with hundreds of other young African-American artists, such as Beauford Delaney and Ed Clark. They flocked to Paris to be at the forefront of Modernism in the post-war art world. Inspired by the Spanish modernist, Julio Gonzalez, the first artist of the era to explore a new a technique of welding with iron, Cousins built delicate, expressive sculptures, working with metal so fine that it appears almost as a drawing lifted from the page.


Harold Cousins never returned to live in the United States, and though he rose to great acclaim in Europe, his first American show did not open until 1996 – four years after his passing. The Eskenazi Museum of Art was one of the first museums to acquire something of Cousins’ for their collection, and remains one of the few in the country with any claim to his work.


- Courtesy of the Speed Art Museum