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Philip Koch

Philip Koch

(b. 1948)
Born: Rochester, NY, USA

Philip Koch is part of the Living Legacy Project at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. Click here to listen to his artist interview. 



 In May 2015, Philip Koch became the Burchfield Penney's second Artist-in-Residence. Learn more about this project and follow Philip on his year-long journey on Facebook and Tumblr.



Philip Koch was born 1948 in Rochester, NY. Philip Koch never intended to become an artist. When attending Oberlin College as a sociology major, he discovered his interest in art. While taking an art history class that was a requirement his first semester, he was so intrigued, he switched his major to studio art. He attended Oberlin College, graduating with a B.A. in 1970. In 1972, at Indiana University, he graduated with a M.F.A. Philip Koch is best known for his landscape paintings. In his earlier works, he based it on plein air oil studies. Showing naturalistic color and more detail than his later work. Since the early, 1990’s, Koch used soft pastel chalks for color studies and began to work more in the studio form vine charcoal drawings he had executed outdoors. His work tended towards brighter color and less detail.

A former abstract artist, Koch was inspired by the American realist Edward Hopper to change to working in a realist direction. He has a studio located in Cape Code, MA that he has used for 30 years. Since 1983, he has been granted 15 residences to stay and work in his former studio. This was a studio that Hopper produced many of his world famous images.  "What I learned from Hopper's example more than anything else, was to be relentless in pursuit of just the right idea to make a painting. Hopper's studio is surrounded by all sorts of lovely views that ordinary artists would consider sufficient, but for Hoppe they weren't good enough. Don't settle for anything less than extraordinary his work said to me" says Koch.

Koch is the great grandson of John Wallace, a Scottish landscape painter, and the grandson of John Capstaff, the inventor of the first commercially available color film, Kodachrome. Despite his family link to photography, Koch is committed to working from only direct observation or from memory rather than painting from photographs. [1]

 Koch as taught painting at the Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington from 1972-1973. He also taught painting and drawing at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Thirteen American Art Museum’s hold Koch paintings in their permanent collections. Koch 14th solo art museum exhibition was held in the Washing County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, MD. He has also had solo museum exhibitions at the Saginaw Art Museum, MI, Peninsula Fine Arts Center, VA, Cape Cod Museum of Art, MA, and more. In May 2015, Philip Koch became the second Art-in-Residence at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

"There's a mysterious extra dimension that comes when you take your easel out into the field. To paint well you have to hear the wind rustle through the trees.

We all came from nature. When we give her our sustained attention, she in turn allows us to reach the most emotionally resonant place within ourselves. My job as a painter is to reach that place and make paintings to share it with others." [2]

[1] Philip Koch

[2] The Art of Philip Koch