David McCosh was born in Cedar Rapids, IA in 1903. He studied at Iowa’s Coe College and the Art Institute of Chicago, graduating in 1926. McCosh traveled and painted for 2 years in Europe on a John Quincy Adams Scholarship exhibiting his works in a one-man show upon his return in 1929. By 1931, his works were included in shows in New York & Chicago. This initiated an active schedule of exhibitions that McCosh would sustain for over 40 years.
McCosh began his teaching career at the Art Institute of Chicago, and in the summer months, at the Stone City Art Colony in Iowa with his friend, Grant Wood. He taught at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1931-1933.
David McCosh and Anne Kutka of Yonkers, New York, met in the summer of 1930, when both artists were Tiffany Foundation Fellows painting in Oyster Bay, Long Island. Four years later they were married in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
In 1934 after his marriage, McCosh accepted a position in the School of Architecture and Allied Arts at the University of Oregon in Eugene teaching drawing, painting, and lithography. He continued in this position until his retirement in 1970.
Unlike some other mid-20th century Northwest painters — Morris Graves, Mark Tobey, & Kenneth Callahan — McCosh was never part of a recognized school or movement and drew little national attention. McCosh’s early work expresses the modern interest in scenes of contemporary life. Gradually, his observation of nature would become the dominant focus of his work for the remainder of his painting career.
Always circumspect about the idea of abstract art, McCosh remained steadfast in his belief that painting always found its basis in observation--the people, the animals, and the landscapes that surrounded him. From this perspective, McCosh’s mature, and highly personal style became a record of the visual vocabulary he developed responding to what his experienced eye had learned to see.
After his retirement in 1970, McCosh continued to live and paint in Eugene. He died in 1981.