Mark Cohen Featured in Republican Herald

Wilkes-Barre Photographer Has Gained International Recognition

By Nancy Honicker

When I was a kid living on Greenwood Hill in Pottsville, we staged a Tom Thumb wedding at the local playground. Everyone got involved, even the bullies, decked out in their Sunday best. We girls wore frilly dresses and plastic hair bands with veils attached. In the empty lot that was our playground, we lined up for photographs and a few days later, there we were, on display in The Pottsville Republican.

I still have that photo, I can still name the kids huddled around the bride, and, what strikes me is how dusty we were. Despite our finery, despite our efforts to look our best, our patent leather Mary Janes had lost their sheen and the boys’ oxfords looked shabby and gray. It wasn’t our fault. We had done our best, but the playground was no more than coal dirt and every step we took stirred up a cloud of dust.

Playing baseball, when we slid into base, we blackened our pants and sneakers. Wearing shorts, we darkened our bare knees. Blackened sneakers, dark knees, the stuff of summers spent on coal banks and coal dirt lots.

I’ve just been to a photography exhibit in Paris bearing that name – “Dark Knees.” The photographer, a pioneer of street photography with an international reputation, is from Wilkes-Barre. His name is Mark Cohen and for more than 50 years, night after night, after days spent in a commercial photography studio, he has tracked pictures, an affair of choice and chance, in the streets of Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and towns in between.

I did not know Mark Cohen’s work and I discovered him listening to the radio, listening to an announcer struggle in French with the pronunciation of “Wilkes-Barre,” as I asked myself if he was really talking about the Wilkes-Barre I know.

Listening more closely, I learned that a photographer from that town was showing his work at “Le Bal,” an exhibition space in Paris devoted to photography. Checking out the information on the web, I promptly got on the metro and went to see the show.

There, against blood-red walls, I discovered a continuous line of 16-by-20 photographs, mostly black and white, traveling across the four walls of a large underground exhibition space. I did not discover Wilkes-Barre or the coal region: no breakers, no strip mines, no deserted downtown that had once seen better days. There was nothing that deliberately drew attention to a specific time or place. There weren’t even people, at least not people posing, composed faces, bodies shot from head to toe.

From Dark Knees

Instead, there are fragments: a coat collar, a pearled eyeglass chain, a chin, a brooch, two calves wrapped in rayon knee socks, two feet wearing leather buckle shoes. Sometimes there is only a forehead, a hairline, bodies without head or feet, hands folded in the lap of a girl wearing cut-off jeans, a bare bony torso, dark knees against a background of vacant lots and clapboard houses, with a stairway leading to paradise…

There are also still lifes: the tops of unlaced boots, a string of outdoor lights, tomatoes ripening on an old wooden table in somebody’s backyard.

These fragments, these photos, often beautiful and shot through with a disturbing grace, are not restful. Cohen’s exhibition is not restful. Truncated bodies, defiant or frightened eyes, a fist slammed against a car window with the photographer inside, connote aggression and this notion is inherent to his technique and work.

Cohen has defined himself as a “trigger-happy gunslinger” and he has called his way of taking photos “grab shots.”

Working for 35 years as a commercial photographer, when he closed shop each day, he began a second life, becoming a different person from the man “doing” weddings or annual reports.

At nightfall, he set out, a stalker of sorts, with three rolls of film, a lightweight camera and a flash, entering a world filled with pictures, out there waiting for him. What was necessary, as much as style and technique, was the courage to make the “grab.”

Walking through the streets of Wilkes-Barre, Cohen, like a gunslinger, shot from the hip, camera in one hand, flash in the other. Constantly on the move but using a wide-angle lens, he had to get close to people, dangerously close at times, confronting raised fists, threats, insults and run-ins with the police. Approaching his subjects, according himself “artistic license” to burst into their lives, Cohen “flashed” them, grabbing the picture and then, just as quickly, merging back into the flow of street life.

Returning to his studio after having shot more than 100 photos, he might make no more than eight prints. In many of the shots, choice and accident did not mesh-or the picture he envisioned did not take off once he captured it within the rectangle that is his signature format, one he never crops.

The next night, he was back in the street, following instinct, believing chance, luck, fate, call it what you will, would deliver new treasures, fragments of himself as much as of the place where he anchored his work.

Night after night, Cohen forayed into the streets of Wilkes-Barre, fueled by a shot of adrenaline and the desire to delve deeper into himself.

Recognition and critical acclaim came early and in 1973, at age 30, the photographer had a one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Had he settled in the city, he might have become a star of the New York photography world. Instead, after a quick visit, Cohen got back in his car and drove home to Wilkes-Barre because he “felt like he wasn’t done there.”

Forty years later, the photographer moved to Philadelphia. It took a long time to wrap things up.

Cohen claims he could have just as well taken his photos in Elmira, N.Y., as in Wilkes-Barre. I’m not so sure. Too much coal dust, too much darkness, too much grace born of a violent, mystical marriage between a man and a place: the coal region of northeastern Pennsylvania, an intrinsic part of that self he mined for nearly 50 years.

Some readers may already know Cohen’s work. Some may have seen his 2010 exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There is also a book, “Grim Streets,” published in 2005. But, except for a college show in the early ’60s, there has never been an exhibit of his work on his home turf. Too close for comfort? I wish we could have a chance to tell.

To read the article in the Republican Herald, please click here.

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Read more.. Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Abelardo Morell Opening at ROSEGALLERY Tonight!

Come to ROSEGALLERY to celebrate the opening of Abelardo Morell : Outside In.

The reception for the artist is from 6-8pm.

ROSEGALLERY

Bergamot Station Arts Center

2525 Michigan Avenue, Building G5

Santa Monica, CA 90404

310.264.8440

Paper Self, 2012
Courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, NY

Read more.. Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

ROSEGALLERY Artist Mark Cohen at Le Bal


ROSEGALLERY artist, Mark Cohen, at his Dark Knees exhibition at Le Bal during Paris Photo, 2013.

Read more.. Friday, November 15th, 2013

ROSEGALLERY – William Eggleston at Paris Photo

Featured by Judith Benhamou-Huet in BLOUIN ARTFINO

Read more.. Friday, November 15th, 2013

Saturday, November 23rd, 6-8pm- Abelardo Morell: Outside In

Read more.. Thursday, November 14th, 2013

William Eggleston 'At Zenith' in Musee Magazine

Eggleston is a big deal in the photography world. He is credited with the invention, or at least the dispersions of the idea of color photography. His work is legendary. Through the 60s and 70s he took America in it’s bleakest condition and added a splash of color.

Sometime in the mid 90s, Eggleston started taking pictures of clouds from his car window. From there he naturally progressed to taking pictures of clouds as an art form, focusing his lens skyward and capturing what’s above.

At first view, someone unfamiliar with Eggleston’s work would perhaps say, “These are just pictures of clouds.” The word ‘just’ is very important. Employing a time tested method, I made my way to the gallery with someone completely ignorant of not only Eggleston, but of artistic photography in general.

“These are just pictures of clouds.”

“Not just”

“Fine, these are pictures of clouds.”

“They are a Rorschach test. You can see anything in them.”

“I see clouds.”

What my friend lacked was a reference point. The clouds are clouds and our brains perceive the images. Young children lay in the grass looking up at the clouds and see rabbits, dragons, faces – but ultimately, they see clouds.

The Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto takes pictures of the sea. His pictures, black and white, all look fairly similar. They look like the sea. Black and white, with a flat clear sky of gray separated by the horizon from a darker ruffled mass. So why is Sugimoto lauded for his seascapes, while I poke fun at Eggleston?

The Japanese are known for their minimalist approach to art. There is a history that welcomes Sugimoto into their ranks. We go to an Eggleston show expecting the same thing he was doing 10, 20 years ago. The artist must move forward, and the pictures should be scrutinized as new work.

The cloudscapes are innocent. The sky is blue and I see a Rhino in the white curls.

Review by John Hutt

Photo Credit:

WILLIAM EGGLESTON
At Zenith I, 1979-2013
(C) Eggleston Artistic Trust.  Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery.

Read more.. Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Wayne Lawrence 'Orchard Beach' at the FLAAG Art Foundation

See below for images of photographer Wayne Lawrence’s Orchard Beach on view on the 5th floor of the FLAAG Art Foundation in Chelsea. ROSEGALLERY will be featuring works from Orchard Beach at PULSE Miami December 5-8. Come by and see the work in person at Booth A102!

Read more.. Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

William Eggleston Book Signing Featured in W Magazine Online

William Eggleston At Zenith Signing at Gagosian NY

Although he is a man of remarkably few words, William Eggleston most resembles the gallant Southern rascal of his reputation when he is reclining, his legs scissored, a rapt audience before him—in other words, when it looks as if he is about to spin a great yarn. So the Memphis photographer sat, last week, before an expectant huddle of family members and advisors, in the private library of Gagosian Gallery’s Madison Avenue offices in New York. Upstairs in the gallery, “At Zenith,” a show of Eggleston’s photographs of the cerulean sky first taken during the late ’70s, but little seen since, had just been installed. (The exhibition opened on Saturday, October 25.) Easing into a sofa, Eggleston, 74, noted his pleasure at the way the pictures looked on the walls, but otherwise appeared very comfortable saying very little. A photographer of the everyday epiphany, Eggleston is also a master of the excruciatingly grand pause. At last, he announced, “I’ll see my great friend Ed Ruscha tonight.” Later that evening, Ruscha was to be honored at the Whitney Museum’s annual gala, where he singled out Eggleston for an unofficial “suave man award.” For Eggleston, that was something of a life achievement honor. His persona as a rakish Southern gentleman of enormous persuasion—on the art world, on photographers and filmmakers, on women throughout his life—was formed early on.

William Eggleston in Memphis.  CLICK HERE to view a video from the Eggleston opening at the Whitney Museum. William Eggleston in Memphis.

On this afternoon, Eggleston was dressed in a navy-blue suit, white shirt, gleaming black loafers, and an extra-wide striped prep tie that he’d flipped about his neck with nonchalant élan, like a scarf. His silvery hair was neatly slicked back. “If I was as dramatic-looking as Bill Eggleston,” Ruscha once remarked, “I’d probably do nothing but photograph myself.” Eggleston first turned his camera heaven-wards while driving under the big Southern sky, on a 1978 road trip from Georgia to Memphis with the music writer Stanley Booth. “I just looked out the window,” Eggleston said, pointing his index finger towards the ceiling, “and there it was!” Initially, he shot the passing clouds from the car with a Polaroid camera. “They looked like frescoes,” he said. The overhead shots he subsequently took with his Kodak while prone on the ground have the same painterly quality that made Eggleston’s color photography so pioneering early on. These cloud pictures were first collected in 1979 in Wedgwood Blue; the series has now been collected into a new volume from SteidlWilliam Eggleston: At Zenith. (Eggleston will be signing copies tonight at the Gagosian Shop.) The book is dedicated to John Szarkowski—the late MOMA curator who first exposed Eggleston’s radical work to an art world that had previously regarded color photography as a commercial vulgarity—and opens with a W.B. Yeats poem. Eggleston’s son Wlliam, arriving with a galley of the book, implored his father to read the passage aloud for his audience. “You have such a great voice, Dad.” Eggleston made a brief show of protest—his eyes are not so great, and he did not have his reading glasses on hand—but soon he picked up the book. He cleared his throat, and began: “‘Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths/Enwrought with golden and silver light …’” As he continued on, Eggleston’s previously matter-of-fact voice took on a roguish warmth, as if he were regaling an entire Memphis bar with a story he knew was bound to kill. “‘… I have spread my dreams under your feet/Tread softly because you tread on my dreams,’” he finished, his eyes crinkling, and the room broke into applause. To read the feature on W online, please click here.

Read more.. Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Graciela Iturbide in Upcoming 'America Latina 1960-2013'

AMERICA LATINA, 1960–2013

From November 19, 2013 to April 6, 2014, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain will present América Latina 1960-2013, coproduced with the Museo Amparo in Puebla (Mexico). The exhibition will offer a new perspective on Latin American photography from 1960 to today, focusing on the relationship between text and the photographic image.
Bringing together more than seventy artists from eleven different countries, it reveals the great diversity of photographic practices by presenting the work of documentary photographers as well as that of contemporary artists who appropriate the medium in different ways.
This unique presentation will provide the visitor with the opportunity to delve into the history of the region and to rediscover the works of major artists rarely exhibited in Europe.

Latin America : a Fascinating Region
Over centuries, Latin America has fascinated observers as much as it has mystified them; there is a sense of the exotic that derives perhaps from it having once been perceived as a “new world.” Today, while contemporary Latin American culture has received much attention, the historical circumstances surrounding its production are often less widely explored.
The exhibition América Latina will cover the period from 1960 – the year following the Cuban revolution – to today. In many Latin American countries, this period has been marked by political and economic instability, and has seen a succession of revolutionary movements and repressive military regimes, the emergence of guerilla movements as well as transitions toward democracy. By exploring the interaction between text and image in the art of Latin America over the course of the last fifty years, the exhibition provides a vivid look into this tumultuous period of history through the eyes of the artists.

Photography and Text in a Shifting World
During the era covered by the exhibition, when the climate of political upheaval required an urgent response, many Latin American artists increasingly sought to escape media specificity by bringing text and image together in their work. This new visual approach provided them with an effective tool for expressing themselves and communicating, as photography is a medium that rapidly and realistically records reality while text provides a way of expanding or altering the meaning of the image. Through these formalistic inventions the artists tried to portray the complexity and violence of the world around them and in some cases to sidestep censorship. In the 1980s the Chilean artist Eugenio Dittborn created ‘‘airmail paintings’’ which were folded up and sent all over the world, circumventing Chile’s cultural isolation under Pinochet. As for Miguel Rio Branco, a figurehead of Brazilian photography, he has depicted the underclass of a two-tiered society in a highly poetic manner.

ARTISTS
Elías ADASME (Chili), Carlos ALTAMIRANO (Chili), Francis ALŸS (Mexique), Claudia ANDUJAR (Brésil), Antonio Manuel (Brésil), Ever ASTUDILLO (Colombie), Artur BARRIO (Brésil), Luz María BEDOYA (Pérou), Iñaki BONILLAS (Mexique), Oscar BONY (Argentine), Barbara BRÄNDLI (Venezuela), Marcelo BRODSKY (Argentine), Miguel CALDERÓN (Mexique), Johanna CALLE (Colombie), Luis CAMNITZER (Uruguay), Bill CARO (Pérou), Graciela CARNEVALE et le Grupo de Artistas de Vanguardia (Argentine), Fredi CASCO (Paraguay), Guillermo DEISLER (Chili), Eugenio DITTBORN (Chili), Juan Manuel ECHAVARRÍA (Colombie), Eduardo Rubén (Cuba), Felipe EHRENBERG (Mexique), Robert FANTOZZI (Pérou), León FERRARI (Argentine), José A. FIGUEROA (Cuba), Flavia GANDOLFO (Pérou), Carlos GARAICOA (Cuba), Paolo GASPARINI (Venezuela), Anna Bella GEIGER (Brésil), Carlos GINZBURG (Argentine), Daniel GONZÁLEZ (Venezuela), Jonathan HERNÁNDEZ (Mexique), Graciela ITURBIDE (Mexique), Guillermo IUSO (Argentine), Alejandro JODOROWSKY (Chili), Claudia JOSKOWICZ (Bolivie), Marcos KURTYCZ (Mexique), Suwon LEE (Venezuela), Adriana LESTIDO (Argentine),Marcos LÓPEZ (Argentine), Pablo LÓPEZ LUZ (Mexique), Rosario LÓPEZ PARRA (Colombie), LOST ART (Brésil), Jorge MACCHI (Argentine), Teresa MARGOLLES (Mexique), Agustín MARTÍNEZ CASTRO (Mexique), Marcelo MONTECINO (Chili), Oscar MUÑOZ (Colombie), Helio OITICICA (Brésil), Damián ORTEGA (Mexique), Pablo ORTIZ MONASTERIO (Mexique), Leticia PARENTE (Brésil), Luis PAZOS (Chili), Claudio PERNA (Venezuela), Rosângela RENNÓ (Brésil), Miguel RIO BRANCO (Brésil), Herbert RODRÍGUEZ (Pérou), Juan Carlos ROMERO (Argentine), Lotty ROSENFELD (Chili), Graciela SACCO (Argentine), Maruch SÁNTIZ GÓMEZ (Mexique), Vladimir SERSA (Venezuela), Regina SILVEIRA (Brésil), Milagros DE LA TORRE (Pérou), Susana TORRES (Pérou), Sergio TRUJILLO DÁVILA (Colombie), Jorge VALL (Venezuela), Leonora VICUÑA (Chili), Eduardo VILLANES (Pérou), Luiz ZERBINI (Brésil), Facundo DE ZUIVIRÍA (Argentine)

To read more about this exhibition, please click here.

Read more.. Saturday, October 26th, 2013

Jo Ann Callis: Early Color on ASX

Although my work outwardly seems to vary over many years, there are certain links running through all of it. I consistently want to make things that satisfy my sense of beauty. I respond to the tactile nature of things. Another element that pervades it is tension or anxiety. These elements always live within me and are present in all my art.
-Jo Ann Callis

Callis began her art studies in Ohio in the 1950s, as a high school student in Cincinnati and in college at Ohio State University in Columbus. However, her academic work was interrupted by marriage, a move to Los Angeles, and child rearing.  After the interruption, she returned and studied under Robert Heineken and would emerge, in late 1970s, as one of the first important practitioners of the “fabricated photographs” movement. Callis began teaching at the California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts) in 1976. Callis is represented by ROSEGALLERY in Los Angeles.

Read more.. Saturday, October 26th, 2013