Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Coheleach, Guy
(1933)
Collection: American Collection
Specialty: Paintings
View Artwork
There are artists and then there are adventurers; only rarely in cases
like those of John James Audubon and Peter Beard, do the two overlap.
Another conspicuous addition to that roster is the American wildlife
artist Guy Coheleach. His thirst for authenticity in his paintings has led
Coheleach into a number of dangerous animal encounters, including, like
Beard, being run down by an elephant. That horrifying event took place in
Zambia in 1972, was captured on film, and has been shown in many venues,
both as an example of artistic dedication and a warning of the dangers of
authenticity. But for Coheleach, it was only one of many exciting episodes
in a life filled with remarkable experiences and the art that has arisen
from them.

Born in New York City in 1933, Coheleach attended the Cooper Union School
of Art where he learned artistic design, though he claimed that painting
realistically came naturally to him. Although he has worked in pencil,
watercolor, and acrylic, he prefers to use oil because of "its sensual
feel sliding onto the canvas" as well as its "classical acceptance." Early
in his career, he began traveling to get first hand experience of the
animals he chooses to paint. Inspired by such renowned wildlife artists as
Bruno Liljefers, a pioneer in depicting wildlife in a natural landscape as
well as predator-prey action, Wilhelm Kuhnert, a classical painter of
tropical animals, and Louis Fuertes, the famous American ornithological
illustrator and artist, Coheleach has been adamant about doing up close
and personal studies of the animals he portrays in his paintings. He draws
sketches from life, though he also uses photographs as visual reminders of
animal positioning and patterning as well as background shapes and
lighting. But as he illustrates in his famous painting of a leopard titled
Eye to Eye, he does all his best work from personal acquaintance
with the frequently dangerous subjects. This has led to his being featured
in numerous magazine and journal articles as well as several
documentaries, including a PBS film on his 2006 trip to Africa.

The broad array of his animal subjects has made Coheleach popular
throughout the world. The first western artist to exhibit in Peking after
World War II, he has also exhibited widely in the Americas, producing over
100 commercial one-man shows in addition to appearing at museums including
the Corcoran Gallery, the Royal Ontario Museum, the National Collection of
Fine Art, the Carnegie Museum, the Newark Museum, and the R.W. Norton Art
Gallery, which added his White on White: Snowy Owl to its permanent
collection. He received a Master Artist medal from the Leigh Yawkey
Woodson Art Museum in 1983 and has received the Society of Animal Artists'
Award of Excellence eight times. His credentials as an adventurer are no
less remarkable: he is a fellow of the prestigious Explorer's Club and the
youngest member ever admitted to the Adventurer's Club of New York.

Over his lifetime, Coheleach has moved his residency from New York to New
Jersey to Florida, but he is really a citizen of the world, with his
favorite subjects ranging from African lions to the pelicans that nest
offshore near his current home. When not traveling, he writes books,
including The African Lion as Man-Eater (2003), Guy Coheleach's
Animal Art
(1994), Coheleach: Masters of the Wild (1984), and
The Big Cats: The Paintings of Guy Coheleach (1981). In all his
work, he makes clear his commitment to maintaining the natural balance of
the wilderness and his concern for endangered species; to that end, he has
established an endowment for six full scholarships to the School of
Wildlife Management at the University of Texas.

Whatever his future adventures, we can count on Coheleach to share them
with us with vibrant paintings that allow us to enjoy the exhilaration
without the danger.

Everl Adair, Director of Research and Rare Collections