Photographer and musician John Cohen's final testimony: a lyrical flow of images from his 60-year career
A Wall Street Journal 2020 holiday gift guide pickOne cold sunny morning in December 2018, Gerhard Steidl drove from New York City to see John Cohen (1932-2019)--photographer, filmmaker and founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers--at his home in upstate Putnam Valley. The purpose of the visit was to collect images for Cohen's 2019 book Look up to the Moon. In Cohen's barn-cum-studio they stumbled across another group of prints from across his 60-year career. Steidl took the boxes under his arm, and the photos now appear for the first time here, in Cohen's most lyrical and personal book, as well as his last. Sequenced wholly by mood and intuition and eschewing titles and dates, the portraits, landscapes and still lifes, along with drawings, unify disparate subjects--his wife Penny, Roscoe Holcomb, fragments of the Parthenon--into a dreamlike flow. Cohen's text, recalling his intertwining dreams across decades, explores the line between dream and reality, memory and book.