Mark Cohen: Viewing Room

Over the past 40 years Mark Cohen has walked the length and breadth of the streets in and around his hometown, seizing fragments of gestures, postures and bodies. In his photos we see headless torsos, smiling children, willing subjects yet still frighteningly vulnerable, thinly sketched limbs and coats worn like protective cloaks. (Via
Cohen is the quintessential street photographer, using an aggressive approach in which he closes in on strangers with a camera and flash before they’re aware of being photographed. His stark images made on the streets of Wilkes-Barre and other working-class Pennsylvania towns capture moments, gestures, and emotions that, because they might be invisible to others’ sensibilities, testify to Cohen’s innately superior perception, his gift of precise and ingenious visual ordering. His work received early recognition, with a one-person show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1973 when he was just thirty, and it has garnered critical acclaim ever since. Today, Cohen’s work is held in over thirty prominent international collections, ranging from the Metropolitan Museum in New York City to the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.

A portrait of Mark Cohen by Isaac Cohen

About the Author

Mark Cohen was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania where he lived and photographed for most of his life. His work was first exhibited in 1969 at the George Eastman House but came to prominence with his first solo exhibition at MoMA in 1973. Known primarily for his black and white images, Cohen was also a pioneer of the 1970s color movement.
Working in a “shoot-from-the-hip” style and making use of the legacy of street photographers from Eugène Atget to Garry Winogrand, Cohen flouts conventions of traditional portraiture.

“There’s no conversation. I’m not interested in having to explain myself,” he has said. “I’m just using people on the street in the most transitory way.”

Shooting in the gritty environs of working-class Pennsylvania, Cohen brought to street photography a literal and innovative closeness that came from his style of holding the camera at arm’s length without looking through the viewfinder while using an unusually wide-angle lens. Cohen is the recipient of two Guggenheim Grants and his work is in the collections of major museums throughout the world.

Mark Cohen: Viewing Room
NOVEMBER 29, 2022 – APRIL 22, 2023
Howard Greenberg Gallery – New York

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