As We Breathe: A New Solo Exhibition by Benjamin Degen A’98

POSTED ON: February 23, 2023

Ben Degen Longshore (Day)

Benjamin Degen, Longshore (Day). 2022. Oil on panel. 48 x 84 in.

Ben Degen Longshore (Night)

Benjamin Degen, Longshore (Night). 2022. Oil on panel. 48 x 84 in.

Artist Benjamin Degen A’98, a longtime adjunct faculty member in the School of Art, is presenting a series of new paintings and works on paper this month at Susan Inglett Gallery in New York City. His fifth solo exhibit, the show is titled As We Breathe and will run through March 11, with the artist leading a sketch class hosted in the gallery on Saturday, February 25.

Degen’s work is inspired by Eastern and Western aesthetics as well as philosophical, musical, and esoteric traditions. The new paintings featured employ the visual language of drawing to invite the viewer on a journey into the artist’s world.

“An image will arrive,” says Degen. “I’ll pull out my sketchbook to quickly get it down on paper. This sketch is usually a collection of elements (a figure or objects) in a very particular composition. The composition and the elements are of equal importance. The shape may be the important thing. The number may be important. The pieces fit together like an equation, the words in a sentence, or notes in a melody.”

In addition to The Cooper Union, Degen, who is based in Beacon, New York, has taught at the Rhode Island School of Design, the State University of New York at Purchase, and Brooklyn College. His artwork has been exhibited across the country and internationally and is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Hort Foundation, the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Collezione Maramotti in Italy, and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, among others.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.