Mark Cohen (photographer)

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Mark Cohen
Born1943 (age 75–76)
ResidencePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
Home townWilkes-Barre and Scranton, Pennsylvania

Mark Cohen (born 1943) is an American photographer best known for his innovative close-up street photography.[1][2]

Cohen's major books of photography are Grim Street (2005), True Color (2007), and Mexico (2016). His work was first exhibited in a group exhibition at George Eastman House in 1969 and he had his first solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1973.[3] He was awarded Guggenheim Fellowships in 1971 and 1976.[4] and received a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1975.[5]

Life and work[edit]

Cohen was born and lived in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania until 2013. He attended Penn State University and Wilkes College between 1961 and 1965, and opened a commercial photo studio in 1966.[6]

The majority of the photography for which Cohen is known is shot in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area (also known as the Wyoming Valley), a historic industrialized region of northeastern Pennsylvania. Characteristically Cohen photographs people close-up, using a wide-angle lens and a flashgun, mostly in black and white, frequently cropping their heads from the frame, concentrating on small details.[7] He has used 21 mm, 28 mm and 35 mm focal length, wide-angle, lenses and later on 50 mm.[8] Cohen has described his method as 'intrusive';[9] "They're not easy pictures. But I guess that's why they're mine."[10]

Discussing his influences with Thomas Southall in 2004[9] he cites ". . . so many photographers who followed Cartier-Bresson, like Frank, Koudelka, Winogrand, Friedlander." He also recognises the influence of Diane Arbus.[10] Whilst acknowledging these influences he says: "I knew about art photography...Then I did these outside the context of any other photographer."[10]

In 2013 Cohen moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[8]


Books by Cohen[edit]

  • Mark Cohen, Photographer: A Monograph. 1980. 38 pp. OCLC 14157788.[11]
  • Mark Cohen: October 10 – December 13, 1981. Washington, DC: Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1981. 24 pp. OCLC 8793002.
  • Images: A Photographic Essay of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Avoca, PA: Economic Development Council of Northeastern Pennsylvania, 1982. 58 pp. OCLC 40750751.
  • Five Minutes in Mexico: Photographs. Wilkes-Barre, PA: Sordoni Art Gallery, 1989. 71 pp. ISBN 0-942945-00-X.
  • Grim Street. New York: powerHouse, 2005. ISBN 1-57687-230-0.
  • True Color. New York: powerHouse, 2007. ISBN 1-57687-372-2. Text by Vince Aletti. Work in colour originating as a commission from George Eastman House.
  • Italian Riviera. Rome: Punctum, 2008. ISBN 978-8-895410-16-6. Edition of 40 copies. Made along the Levante Riviera, during his stay in Rapallo, Liguria.
  • Mark Cohen: Strange Evidence. Self-published / CreateSpace, 2012. ISBN 978-1456563738. Catalogue of the exhibition Mark Cohen: Strange Evidence at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, January 2010 to March 2011, curated by Peter Barbiere.
  • Dark Knees. Paris: Xavier Barral, 2013. ISBN 978-2-365110-42-6. "Wilkes-Barre and around Pennsylvania 1969–2012". "Published on the occasion of the exhibition Mark Cohen Dark Knees at [Le Bal] in Paris between September 27 and December 8, 2013 and at the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam between November 8, 2014 and January 11, 2015."
  • Frame: a Retrospective. Austin: University of Texas, 2015. ISBN 978-1-4773-0372-6. With an introduction by Jane Livingston.
  • Mexico. Austin: University of Texas, 2016. ISBN 978-1-4773-1171-4.
  • Bread In Snow. Tokyo: Super Labo, 2019. ISBN 978-4-908512-68-1.


Contributions to publications[edit]

  • Contatti. Provini d'Autore = Choosing the best photo by using the contact sheet. Vol. I. Edited by Giammaria De Gasperis. Rome: Postcart, 2012. ISBN 978-88-86795-87-6.

Books about Cohen[edit]

  • Wonders Seen in Forsaken Places: An essay on the photographs and the process of photography of Mark Cohen by Alphonso Lingis. Self-published / CreateSpace, 2010. ISBN 978-1442180536.



Solo exhibitions[edit]

Notable group exhibitions[edit]


Cohen's work is held in the following permanent public collections:


  1. ^ a b c Estrin, James (7 December 2012). "Bright Flash, Small City". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  2. ^ Campbell, Max (12 May 2016). "Mark Cohen's Close-Up Street Photography". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-04-19 – via
  3. ^ a b "Jumprope". Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j [1], John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 2019-03-09.
  5. ^ a b NEA 1975 Annual report Archived 2010-12-16 at the Wayback Machine (PDF), page 97.
  6. ^ "Mark Cohen" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-10-11. Retrieved 2010-06-26.
  7. ^ "Photography: Mark Cohen", Profiles in Excellence. Penn State Public Broadcasting, 1982. Here [2] at Penn State on Demand. (Starts at 1′43″.)
  8. ^ a b c Estrin, James (8 May 2014). "Pictures on the Street? It's Complicated". New York Times. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
  9. ^ a b 2004 interview with Thomas Southall, in Grim Street.
  10. ^ a b c 2004 interview with Anne Wilkes Tucker, in the preface to Grim Street.
  11. ^ According to WorldCat, "Also published as Camera, 1980, no. 3."
  12. ^ "Exhibition History List". MoMA. Retrieved 2010-06-26.
  13. ^ "1975 News Releases", Art Institute of Chicago.
  14. ^ "Mark Cohen: Strange Evidence". Philadelphia Museum of Art. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  15. ^ "Mark Cohen: Italian Riviera, 2008", Marywood University.
  16. ^ Moroz, Sarah (22 October 2013). "Mark Cohen: the photographer who literally shoots from the hip". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  17. ^ "Mark Cohen - Exhibitions - Nederlands Fotomuseum Rotterdam". Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  18. ^ Nathan Lyons, Vision and Expression (New York: Horizon Press, 1969).
  19. ^ George Eastman House bio.
  20. ^ 129 items, detailed in the checklist of artists. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  21. ^ Two items, according to the alphabetical listing of artists, including Girl with Skipping Rope, the cover image of Grim Street. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  22. ^ Mark Cohen: 1943- Whitney Museum of American Art. Accessed 21 June 2017.

External links[edit]