December 4, 2016


Police Officer Secretly Paints For 25 Years, Leaves Behind Incredible Collection (Masha Froliak, December 3, 2016, Heat Street)
Standing in front of a painting by Richard De Cosmis - in his studio, improvised from a garage of his house in Weehawken, NJ - was a revelation to me.

Broken turbulent lines depicted a figure of a man, his torso bent, placed against an abstract background. It was reminiscent of the contorted bodies in the work of Michelangelo and Francis Bacon. But the painting I was looking at had its own unique style and emotional intensity. Who is this artist? And why we haven't heard of him?

Richard De Cosmis was a police officer. He died last year, leaving behind a large collection of paintings and drawings, as well as a mystery yet to be solved, on the over 100 paintings he produced, in seclusion, over the last 25 years. [...]

A series of paintings in which figures are huddled together, positioned off balance, slumping over the other's shoulder, or even as if floating weightless in mid air, were particularly striking.

His family reveals, that De Cosmis began painting after retiring his 30 year service as a police officer and was a self taught painter, a total outsider in the art world.

However, a great amount of books, sketches, and notes scattered in the studio suggest that he was very conscious about what it was he was trying to achieve.

I look through some handwritten notes: "Traditional out. Paint: or quit!", "Essentials: mood, emotions, tension" , "Forget realism", "Reduce Definitions", "Negative space needs movement." [...]

I am stricken by the fact that such a profound collection was created without any academic training, any creative surrounding and no direct interaction with other artists.

And I am truly wondering if this man, a former police officer, and a father of five children, might at some point be recognized as a great American painter.

Posted by at December 4, 2016 12:14 PM