FILMMAKER IN PERSON!
Although he is most widely recognized as a musician, John Cohen’s photographs and films have been exhibited by museums, galleries, and at film festivals worldwide. His steadfast campaign for the recognition of traditional roots/folk music has led to the production of fifteen films, hundreds of photographs, and numerous sound recordings. He has also released more than twenty albums with the New Lost City Ramblers, published eight photo books with Steidl, and is the author of countless articles, liner notes, and interviews.
From the late 1950s he was involved with the emerging art world in NYC, photographing Robert Frank’s production of the seminal film about the Beat Generation, PULL MY DAISY (1959), and documenting the emergence of Pop Art and the heyday of Cedar Bar, the central hangout of the Abstract Expressionist painters. The body of photographic work that resulted will be featured in two upcoming exhibitions: “John Cohen: The 10th Street Art World, 1957-1963,” a selection of his photographs from this era, is currently on display at L. Parker Stephenson Photographs at 764 Madison Avenue until February 11, while his work will also be included in the NYU Grey Art Gallery’s exhibition “Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965,” on view January 10-April 1.
This four-program survey of his moving-image work exemplifies another dimension of his career. These vitally important, vibrant films provide unforgettable glimpses into the musical cultures of a wide range of communities, from miners and farmers in Appalachia and Native Americans in the western U.S., to the native peoples of the Peruvian Andes. The series is bookended by Cohen’s footage of a young Bob Dylan – drawing a link between his music documentaries and his downtown NYC activities – and by his 2014 portrait of the painter Mary Frank, demonstrating the remarkable range of interests reflected in his work.
Special thanks to L. Parker Stephenson (L. Parker Stephenson Photographs), Lucy Oakley (NYU Grey Art Gallery), and Melissa Rachleff Burtt (NYU).