Stephen Ellis

Adjunct Professor

Stephen Ellis is a painter whose abstractions are often associated with the visuality of film and photography. He received a BFA from Cornell University followed by postgraduate study at The New York Studio School.

Ellis currently teaches Introductory Painting at The Cooper Union, where he has also taught Foundation Color, Advanced Painting, Advanced Drawing, and Contemporary Art Issues. In addition to Cooper Union, Ellis has also taught painting, art history and/or theory at Harvard University, The California Institute of Art, The School of Visual Arts, Rhode Island School of Design, New York University and in the MFA program at Bard College. In 2017-2018 he was the Intermim Director of the Hoffberger School of Painting at MICA.

Ellis has had solo exhibitions in New York at Koury Wingate, Koury, Emmerich and Von Lintel galleries. In Europe he has shown with Galerie Crone in Hamburg, Galerie Von Lintel in Munich, Galerie Obadia in Paris, and Marella Arte Contemporanea in Milan, among others. Reviews of his work have appeared in Artforum, Art in America, ArtNews, and The New York Times, among other publications. Group exhibitions include: "Sets, Series, and Suites: Contemporary Prints" at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, "Invitational," at the American Academy of Arts & Letters, "Grays," at Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, "Works on Paper," Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, "Abstraction/Abstractions: Conditional Geometries," Musée d'Art Moderne de Saint Etienne, France, and "Nuevas Abstracciones," Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain. Ellis's work is included in public collections including The Brooklyn Museum, The Fogg Museum, The Ashmolean Museum and The National Fund for Contemporary Art, Paris. He has received the Purchase Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2004) and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (1991) and CAPS (now New York Foundation for the Arts, 1986).

Ellis has written extensively on contemporary art for European and American publications including Parkett, Tema Celeste, and Art in America. He has been an Associate and Contributing Editor of Art in America as well as editing for Artforum and Parkett Magazine (Switzerland).

Stephen Ellis, Provençe: Yellow (Painting Installation) View #2, painting: latex on plaster wall, 9 x 25 ft., oculus with red glass; entire installation: 90 x 25 ft., 2014
Stephen Ellis, Provençe: Yellow (Painting Installation) View #2, painting: latex on plaster wall, 9 x 25 ft., oculus with red glass; entire installation: 90 x 25 ft., 2014


  • 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.