Eileen Cooper was born 1953 in Glossop, in the Derbyshire Peak District. She studied at Goldsmiths College from 1971-1974 being in the cohort of students who were selected by Jon Thompson. Senior members of staff at that time included Bert Irvin RA, Basil Beattie RA and Michael Craig Martin RA. She went on to study Painting at the Royal College of Art under Peter de Francia, graduating in 1977 and soon began to exhibit her work.
During the 1980s she became a major figure, well known and regarded for her strong and passionate figuration. Cooper has always taught part time in numerous institutions including St Martins, Royal College of Art and the Royal Academy Schools.
She became a Royal Academician in 2000 and in 2010 was elected Keeper of the Royal Academy, the first woman in this role since the Academy began in 1768.
Sometimes described as a magic realist, Eileen Cooper brings an unapologetically female perspective to her subject-matter, which encompasses sexuality, motherhood, life and death. Her richly diverse images, simultaneously bold and tender, reveal a range of feeling that is both deeply engrossing and readily accessible, yet still very much part of contemporary art practice.
Throughout her career Cooper’s work has 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.
A monograph on Eileen Cooper RA written by Martin Gayford was published in May 2015, with a retrospective at the RA Hide and Seek to coincide.