Woody Guthrie at Cooper Union, 1959


Gelatin silver print, printed later

14.00 x 11.00 in

35.6 x 27.9 cm

The print is signed, titled and dated by the artist in pencil on the verso. As exclusive representative, the Gallery received work directly from the artist during his life and now from the Estate.

PRICE: $6,000
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    About The Work

    This image appears on the cover of Cohen's first monograph, "There is No Eye: John Cohen Photographs", Brooklyn: PowerHouse, 2001. In the 1950s traditional folk music and its more contemporary forms mapped an alternative vision of America in opposition to the consumer culture generated by the recording industry, radio, movies and television. A participant in this milieu, Cohen and fellow musicians Mike Seeger and Tom Paley founded The New Lost City Ramblers, an old-time folk music string band, in 1958.

    The Ramblers went on to perform until 2010, influencing generations of folk musicians. Shortly after the band formed, Cohen (driven by his interest in musical root traditions) headed south to Appalachia to meet, photograph and record musicians Roscoe Holcomb, Dillard Chandler, Fred Cockerham and others. These recordings, distributed (and still available) through Smithsonian Folkways Records, circulated their music to a larger audience. In 1962, Cohen made an accompanying film, titled High Lonesome Sound. This term, coined by Cohen, is now widely used to describe this genre of music. Along with musicologists Alan Lomax and Harry Smith and fellow musicians Pete Seeger and other members of his band, Cohen immersed himself in musical spheres found off the grid. Closer to home in New York City, Cohen photographed folk singers Woody Guthrie, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and a young Bob Dylan.

    Along with the need to research musical traditions, Cohen recognized the generational shift that was taking place between the older Guthrie and Dylan, newly arrived in New York. Dylan had known of Cohen through the Ramblers’ music. Their collaboration, which began in 1962, led to now iconic images made in Cohen’s loft and the rooftop of his building. Mention of this session together is made in the liner notes of Dylan’s later album Highway 61 Revisited. These photographs and later ones from 1970 in color are in two of Cohen’s books: Young Bob and Here and Gone. As an authority, Cohen often shared his first-hand experiences and documentation with other musicians, writers, and filmmakers. Among the latter were the Coen brothers (O Brother Where Art Thou and Inside Llewyn Davis), T. Bone Burnett (Cold Mountain), and Ken Burns (Country Music). His research for Burns’ 8-part documentary inspired Cohen’s final lifetime book Speed Bumps on a Dirt Road: When Old Time Music Met Bluegrass (powerHouse, 2019).

    As a fellow musician and member of the New Lost City Ramblers, John Cohen was part of the music scene of the late 1950s and 60s. Woody Guthrie had been performing for decades and young Bob Dylan was ascending on the horizon.

    Cohen sought out the roots of folk music and traveled to the south to listen to, record, and learn from those perched on back porches and singing the gospel in home churches. This is where he discovered Roscoe Holcolmb and coined the term "High Lonesome Sound". 

    Courtesy of L. Parker Stephenson Photographs

    About John Cohen

    • Paper size is indicatedImage size is 13 1/4 x 8 7/8 inches
    • Ships in 2 to 5 business days from New York. Framed works ship in 6 to 9 business days from New York.
    • This work is final sale and not eligible for return.
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