PHONE: 760.943.8706
Emil Kosa Jr.
a california painter
Emil Kosa Jr.


Paris, France
Studied: Academy of Fine Arts, Prague
Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris
Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles

Member: National Academy of Design
American Watercolor Society
Philadelphia Water Color Club
New York Water Color Club
California Water Color Society

Emil Kosa Jr. Biography

Emil Kosa Jr. received art instruction and music lessons at a very early age. When he was in his late teens, he had to decide between being a professional musician or artist. He chose art, but his family and instructors believed he could have been a famous musician had he chosen that occupation.

In the 1920s, Emil Kosa Jr. moved to California, but returned to France several times to continue his art education. He received traditional painting instruction from Pierre Laurens and studied non-objective painting with Frank Kupka. After settling in California in 1928, Emil worked as a mural artist and operated a business with his father that produced decorative art for churches and auditoriums. When that line of work was slow, he took on portrait commissions and sold fine art paintings through local galleries.

In the early 1930s, Kosa Jr. became friends with Millard Sheets and with Sheet's encouragement, began aggressively pursuing a national reputation as a California watercolor artist. He sent up to sixty watercolors every year to museum shows all over America and was among the first California Style watercolorist whose work brought attention to the West Coast watercolor style. Emil was an active member of the California Water Color Society and served as president in 1945. Emil Kosa Jr. was one of the first of the California watercolorists to be accepted into annual shows in New York City at the National Academy of Design and in the American Watercolor Society shows.
To financially support his family, Kosa worked as a scenic artist in the special effects division at Twentieth Century-Fox Studios for more than thirty-five years. He produced art for matt shots and was known as a top artist in this field. The motion picture industry acknowledged his contributions and awarded him an Oscar for his special effects work for Cleopatra.

A compulsive painter, Emil Kosa Jr. would often paint for three or four hours after dinner each night and spend most of his weekends outdoors, painting with watercolors or oils. Alexander Cowie was his Los Angeles agent and the Macbeth gallery sold his work in New York City. The Cowie Gallery, located in the Biltmore Hotel, had several one-man shows every year and included his work in all of their group showings.

Through his studio connections, he also produced a large number of commissioned portraits for movie stars, businessmen and politicians. In the 1950s, he was known as the premier portrait painter in Southern California. His official portrait of Earl Warren from this era, is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.

Emil Kosa Jr. is best known for his representational watercolors and oils, but also won awards for pencil drawings and pastels depicting figurative subjects and prints. During the 1940s and throught the mid-1960s, he occasionally revisited his interest in non-objective art and produced a body of work which expresses his love for music and experimental art concepts.

Biographical information: Interviews with Elizabeth Kosa, George Gibson, and Marian Kosa Saund, 1988.

Emil Kosa Jr. biography provided courtesy of “California Watercolors 1850-1970” by Gordon T. McClelland and Jay T. Last. Book available at
Emil Kosa is interested in purchasing all oil paintings and watercolors by Emil Kosa Jr. If you have a painting by Emil Kosa Jr. and are interested in selling it or simply wish to obtain an estimated value, please get in touch and we'll provide a free art evaluation.
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