Robert D. Cocke USA, b. 1950

Robert D. Cocke’s paintings have evolved dramatically in both style and subject matter since he began painting in the early 1970s. But underlying all of the changes has been a consistent interest in the landscape, whether it be a pristine natural environment, or a crowded cityscape. In the first phase of Cocke’s mature work, roughly 1979- 1995, the landscape/ cityscape was the setting for expressionistic, figurative “dramas” that often contained a kind of commentary in allegorical guise, based on personal musings or events of the day. In the late 1990s, the figures disappeared, the brushwork became less expressionistic, and the subject became the landscape itself, with its potential for evoking a sense of wonder and transcendence. These landscapes were invented by the artist, but were based upon years of drawing and painting from  direct observation of the landscape, in various locales. Gradually the human presence was re-introduced, but with objects placed in the landscape, rather than figures. This addition brought back the possibility of allegorical narrative as a part of the paintings’ content. Recently, in some works, Cocke has returned to the human figure, in response perhaps, to recent events in the sociopolitical sphere.


Robert D. Cocke was born in Salzburg, Austria, in 1950. He received a BFA in Painting from the University of Arizona, and an MFA, also in Painting, from the University of Iowa. Cocke has had solo shows of his work in Dallas, Scottsdale, Los Angeles, San Diego, Tucson, Milwaukee, and Chicago. His work has been included in many group exhibitions, including the Third Western States Biennial, which opened at the Brooklyn Museum, the Florence (Italy) Biennial, “Transcending Earth and Sky,” at San Diego State University, and “Trouble in Paradise,” at the Tucson Museum of Art. Cocke’s work is represented in a number of important museum collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. Robert Cocke has received fellowships from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Western States Arts Federation, and the Ford Foundation (a residency at the University of Georgia). His work has been reviewed in numerous publications, including Art and Antiques, Southwest Art, and Art News.


Robert D. Cocke currently lives and works in Oracle, Arizona.