In his sixty years as a photographer, filmmaker, and founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers string band, John Cohen (1932-2019) took part in and documented many of the major artistic transitions that took place in America during the decades following World War II.

Under the tutelage of Josef Albers and Herbert Matter, Cohen received his Masters from Yale University School of Art in 1957 and moved in next door to Robert Frank in New York City.  With camera in hand, he recorded his surroundings which included now historical events and iconic figures such as the filming of the Beats’ “Pull My Daisy”, the Abstract Expressionist painters congregating at the Cedar Bar, and young Bob Dylan’s arrival to the City.

Cohen has also been an influential figure in the world of American folk music and was a driving force in its revival and appreciation in the early 1960s. In Cohen’s quest to better understand his musical interests, he conducted both visual and audio research in the mountains of Appalachia. The same held true for Andean textiles; as he traveled frequently to Peru to record the ways of weaving as well as the culture and customs that surround it.  In all cases, Cohen pursued “The Source” and documented, not only key moments, pioneering individuals, and vanishing practices on film and recordings but most importantly the environments that cultivated them.

Cohen has had over forty solo exhibitions around the US since 1957 and his work has been central to group exhibitions presented at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Grey Art Gallery at NYU, the Museum of the City of New York, Yale University Art Gallery, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and countless other institutions.

His photographs are in the permanent collections of twenty institutions and his ninth monograph, “Speed Bumps on a Dirt Road” was released in September 2019.

The Library of Congress acquired Cohen’s archive in 2011.


1932 Born New York City

1955 BFA Yale School of Fine Arts

1957 MFA Yale School of Fine Arts. Studies painting with Josef Albers and photography with Herbert Matter

1958-2010 Founding member of band “New Lost City Ramblers”, Grammy nominee

1950s-2014 Documentary filmmaker for 17 films

1960s Film assistant to Robert Frank (“Pull My Daisy” and “Sin of Jesus”)

1965 Moves to Putnam Valley

1978 Performed at Carnegie Hall

1972-1997 Professor of Visual Arts, SUNY, Purchase College, NY

1993 35th Anniversary tour of the New Lost City Ramblers

2011 The Library of Congress Folk Life Center acquires Cohen’s archive.

2019 Died in Putnam Valley


2019 John Cohen | Galerie Julian Sander, Germany

2016 The 10th Street Art World, 1957-1963 | L. Parker Stephenson Photographs, New York, NY

Greenwich Village & Washington Square Park - Mother Road Revival Weekend | Woody Guthrie Center, Tulsa, OK

2015 John Cohen Photographer (as part of Big Sky Documentary Film Festival) | Brink Gallery, Missoula, MT

2013 Been Here and Gone | L. Parker Stephenson Photographs, New York, NY

Been Here and Gone | Morrison Hotel Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

National Music Centre Exposure: Calgary Banff Canmore Photography Festival | Calgary, Canada

Woody Guthrie & Friends | Woody Guthrie Museum, Tulsa, OK

2012 That High Lonesome Sound | University of Kentucky Hospital, Lexington, KY

John Cohen Early Works: 1954-1957 | L. Parker Stephenson Photographs, New York, NY

2011 John Cohen | Musée Rimbaud, Charleville-Mezieres, France

John Cohen | Serge Aboukrat (Galerie La Non-Maison), Paris, France

John Cohen | Galerie La Non-Maison, Aix en Provence, France

2010 Past, Present, Peru | Deborah Bell Photographs, New York, NY

2008 Photographs of 1959 production of Pull My Daisy | Deborah Bell Photographs, New York, NY

There is No Eye | Joseph Saxton Gallery, Canton, OH

2007 Bob Dylan | Wave Gallery, Brescia, Italy

2006 Young Bob | Ice Box Gallery, Minneapolis, MN

There is No Eye: Photographs by John Cohen | Silver Eye Center for Photography, Pittsburgh, PA

2005 There is No Eye | Mizel Center, Denver, CO

2004 There is No Eye | Neuberger Museum, Purchase College SUNY, NY

There is No Eye | Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC

There is No Eye | Hampshire College, Amherst, MA

There is No Eye | Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN

2003 Photographs of Young Bob | Deborah Bell Photographs, New York, NY

There is No Eye | Daytona Beach Center for Photography, Daytona Beach, FL

There is No Eye | Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC

There is No Eye | Santa Fe College, Photo Gallery, NM

There is No Eye | Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL

There is No Eye | Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University, Durham, NC

There is No Eye | Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA

2002 There is No Eye | Photographic Resource Center, Boston University, Boston, MA

John Cohen and Other Musicians | Deborah Bell Photographs, New York, NY

1992 John Cohen: Peru | Nacional Museo de Arte, Lima, Peru

1981 John Cohen: Peru | Side Gallery, Newcastle, England

1980 Photographers Gallery, Wales

1977 John Cohen: Peru | Neuberger Museum, SUNY Purchase, NY

1970 John Cohen: Kentucky | Rhode Island School of Design Museum, RI

1960 John Cohen | Image Gallery, New York, NY

1959 John Cohen: Peru | American Institute of Graphic Artists, New York, NY

1958 John Cohen: Peru | Yale University Art Museum, New Haven, CT

1957 John Cohen: Peru | Limelight Gallery, New York, NY


2018 Portraits | L. Parker Stephenson Photographs, New York, NY

2017 Deadeye Dick: Richard Bellamy and His Circle | Peter Freeman, Inc., New York, NY

Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1950-1965 (traveling) | Grey Art Gallery, New York University, NY

Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1950-1965 (traveling) | NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

Eye of the Song | Michael S. Currier Center, Putney School, Putney, VT

Viewpoints: Latin America in Photographs | New York Public Library, New York, NY

The Photography Show Presented by AIPAD Pier 94 (LPSP booth), New York, NY

2016 Beat Generation (traveling) Center Georges Pompidou, Paris, France

ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany

Identity | Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TX

2015 Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts | American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY

Art On Paper | L. Parker Stephenson Photographs, Pier 36, New York, NY

Folk City: New York and the American Folk Music Revival | Museum of the City of New York, NY

2014 American Cool | National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC

The Image Gallery: Redux 1959-1962 | Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, NY

2013 New Jersey as NonSite | Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton Township, NJ

Roving Signs | Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, NY

The Peruvian Four-Selvaged Cloth: Ancient Threads/New Directions | Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA

2012 Happenings New York, 1958-1963 | Pace Gallery Chelsea, New York, NY

2010 Moving Walls 4 | Open Society Institute, New York, NY

2001 Recent Acquisitions: A Decade of Collecting | Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

1999 Insiders: Intimate Images | Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1998 This World, Another World | Photo Eye Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

1997 Keeping Time: The Music Photographs of John Cohen & Milt Hinton | Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Extended Play: Between Rock and an Art Space | Photographic Resource Center, Boston University, Boston, MA

A Spiritual Journey, Photography in Latin America | Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY

1996 Andean Light | Queens College, New York, NY

1995 Beat Culture and the New America, 1950-1965 | Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

1994 Beat Generation | New York University Gallery, New York, NY

The Sixties | 292 Gallery, New York, NY

1996 Rebels, Poets & Artists of the 1950s | National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC

1981 Peru | Stills Gallery, Scotland Center for Photography, Edinburgh, Scotland

1978 Spirit of the New Landscape | Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME

1963 Group exhibition | Visual Arts Gallery, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY

1958 Red Grooms, Jim Dine, John Cohen (drawings) | Judson Church, New York, NY


2016 Cohen, John. Pull My Daisy. Paris, France: Macula

Cohen, John. Cheap Rents…and de Kooning. Gottingen, Germany: Steidl

2015 Cohen, John. Walking In the Light. Gottingen, Germany: Steidl

2014 Cohen, John. Here and Gone: Bob Dylan & Woody Guthrie & the 1960s. Gottingen, Germany: Steidl

2012 Cohen, John. The High & Lonesome Sound: The Legacy of Roscoe Holcomb. Gottingen, Germany: Steidl

2010 Cohen, John. Past, Present, Peru. Gottingen, Germany: Steidl

2003 Cohen, John. Young Bob: John Cohen’s Early Photographs of Bob Dylan. Brooklyn: powerHouse

2001 Cohen, John. There Is No Eye: John Cohen Photographs. Brooklyn: powerHouse

2019 Cohen, John. “Speed Bumps on a Dirt Road: When Old Time Music Met Bluegrass” powerHouse.


2016 Beat Generation. Paris, France: Centre Pompidou

2015 Wang, Harvey. From Darkroom to Digital. Chapel Hill: Daylight Books


AmberSide Trust Collection, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Amon Carter Museum of Art, Fort Worth, TX

Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY

Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI

Jewish Museum, New York, NY

Library of Congress, Washington, DC (archive)

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

Morgan Library and Museum, New York, NY

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX

Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, NC

National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC

Neuberger Museum, Westchester, NY

New York Public Library, New York, NY

Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA

Rhode Island School of Design, Newport, RI

Sir Elton John Collection

Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT