Artful Lives

Penny Olsen

Artful Lives
Melbourne Books
23 April 2024

Artful Lives

Penny Olsen

'Romance is in all of us. We long to fashion romantic careers for ourselves. We yearn to read those of others, whether they be of love, life, wealth'-so wrote artist-journalist Valerie Frankel Cohen in 1936.

The Cohen sisters lived frugally, enjoyed mischief and flaunted their unconventional lifestyle. Raised in Melbourne and drawn to the tropics, their winters were spent painting, fishing and gardening on their tropical island in Far North Queensland.

They mixed with prominent artists, writers, designers and academics longing for a more progressive, independent Australia. Lina Bryans, Arthur Boyd, Clif Pugh, Noel Wood and Ian Fairweather were among their friends and associates. Their father, Morris, was an exceptional amateur artist.

The sisters' lives spanned the twentieth century, two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the making of modern Australia. Beginning as wealthy, young socialites, they gradually shed their skin to become genteel bohemians, painting and writing-more than anything, enjoying the milieu.

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