Milein Cosman

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Milein Cosman
Milein Cosman.jpg
Cosman drawing Peter Ustinov, Edinburgh Festival, 1947.
Born Milein Cosman
Gotha, Germany
Nationality German
Education Slade School of Art
Known for Drawing, illustration
Hans Keller, conté, c.1958
Igor Stravinsky, pen and ink, c.1959
Francis Bacon, drypoint and monotype, 1984

Milein Cosman is a German-born artist based in England. She is best known for her drawings and prints of leading cultural figures, dancers and musicians in action, such as Francis Bacon, Mikhail Baryshnikov, T. S. Eliot and Igor Stravinsky.


Milein Cosman was born in Gotha, Germany, in 1921 but spent most of her childhood in Düsseldorf. Because of her Jewish background and the rise of National Socialism, she went to school in Switzerland, at the Ecole d'Humanité and the International School of Geneva between 1937 and 1939. She came to England in 1939.

Once in the UK, she studied at the Slade School of Art (located in Oxford during the war years); drawing under Randolph Schwabe and lithography under Harold Jones. In 1943 she attended evening classes at the Polytechnic at Oxford, where she was taught by Bernard Meninsky. In the same year she started teaching French and Art at a convent school as well as giving lectures on Art for the Workers' Educational Association (WEA).

In 1946, Cosman moved to London. She began book illustration and working as a freelance artist, while continuing to teach evening classes for the WEA and working for the American Broadcasting Station in Europe. She contributed drawings to national and international magazines and newspapers, including the BBC’s Radio Times. Particularly noteworthy is a commission from Heute to draw Konrad Adenauer's post-war cabinet in Germany 1949.

In 1947, Cosman met the Viennese-born musician, writer, broadcaster and teacher Hans Keller (1919-1985), whom she married in 1961. Some books of his writings – The Jerusalem Diary (2001), Stravinsky The Music Maker (2010) and Britten (2013), for example – include many of her drawings and prints.

Milein Cosman made a series of schools programmes on drawing for ITV in 1958. In all, she has had nearly 30 solo exhibitions in the UK and abroad and her work has been acquired by many leading museums including the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Ashmolean Museum, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin. She is renowned for drawing quickly, and much of her work was done from the wings or auditorium during rehearsals for concerts, theatrical and dance performances, capturing movement “in mid-flight” as Ernst Gombrich put it.

In 2006, Cosman founded the Cosman Keller Art and Music Trust, which aims to support young musicians and artists as well as publishing, exhibiting and archiving her own and Hans Keller’s work. In 2014, a documentary film on Milein Cosman made by Christoph Böll was premiered in Düsseldorf in her presence.

Books produced or illustrated by Milein Cosman[edit]

  • Hans Keller and Donald Mitchell (eds) (with drawings by Milein Cosman): Benjamin Britten: A Commentary on his Work from a Group of Specialists (London, Rockliff, 1952)
  • Musical Sketchbook (Bruno Cassirer, Oxford, 1957)
  • Neville Cardus (with drawings by Milein Cosman): Composer's Eleven (London, 1958; ISBN 0-8369-1554-2)
  • (with Hans Keller): Stravinsky at Rehearsal (1962; published in Germany as Stravinsky Dirigiert)
  • (with Hans Keller): 1975 (1984 minus 9) (London, 1977)
  • (with Hans Keller): Stravinsky Seen and Heard (Toccata Press, 1982; ISBN 0-907689-02-7). Reissued as Stravinsky The Music Maker (ed. M. Anderson, Toccata Press, 2010)
  • (With Hans Keller): The Jerusalem Diary - Music, Society and Politics, 1977 and 1979 (ed. C. Wintle & F. Williams, Plumbago Books, 2001, ISBN 0-9540123-0-5)
  • Lebenslinien/Lifelines (ed. Thomas B Schumann and Julian Hogg, Edition Memoria, Cologne, 2012, ISBN 978-3-930353-32-3)
  • (with Hans Keller): Britten London, Plumbago Books and Arts, 2013, ISBN 978-0-9566007-4-5 (hardback), 978-0-95660075-2 (softback)

Solo and exhibitions[edit]

1949: Berkeley Gardens, London

1957: Matthiessen Gallery, London

1968: City of London Festival

1970: Theatre des Champs-Élysées (Festival International de Danse, British Council), Paris

1988: Stadtmuseum, Düsseldorf

1996: Belgrave Gallery, London

2007: Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels

2008: Austrian Cultural Forum, London

2014: Hunterian Museum, Glasgow

2014: Kunstforum, Gotha

2015: Rathaus, Düsseldorf

External links[edit]