Tag Archives: Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen art: an outstanding private collection

Leonard Cohen art is instantly recognisable.  It’s beautifully chiselled.  It raises philosophical questions.  It’s witty, knowing – often evoking a wry smile.  It’s autobiographical – Leonard Cohen’s favourite topic is, er, Leonard.  And women he has known. And domestic, everyday scenes.

Just like Leonard Cohen’s music, then.

And, just like Leonard’s music, his body of artwork, though sparse, places him in the very top echelon of rock muso-painters.  If you were to develop a first-class collection of visual art by rock musicians, you’d want to ensure it had a few pieces by Leonard Cohen.

After publishing A beginner’s guide to Leonard’s art here on ROCK ART EDITIONS, I was contacted by Simon de Markoff, a Cohen fan who has assembled a very fine collection of his artwork, principally signed, limited edition prints. He also has a portrait of Cohen by Morton Rosengarten, plus a couple of informal original drawings.

A selection is reproduced below.  They don’t need any words of description.  The only analysis required is to say that this is an outstanding collection of Leonard’s art.  It includes most of the key pieces which have ever been put on sale, including my three personal favourites – Grecian woman, Paris again and The end of the day.

Paris again – Leonard Cohen art #1

Leonard Cohen art: Paris Again

Paris Again by Leonard Cohen

The Hat – Leonard Cohen art #2

Leonard Cohen art: The Hat

The Hat by Leonard Cohen

I sit with the old men – Leonard Cohen art #3

Leonard Cohen art: I sit with old men

I sit with old men by Leonard Cohen

Happy at last – Leonard Cohen art #4

Leonard Cohen art: Happy at last

Happy at last by Leonard Cohen

Grecian Woman – Leonard Cohen art #5

Leonard Cohen art: Grecian Woman

Grecian Woman by Leonard Cohen

Portrait by Morton Rosengarten/I left a woman waiting – Leonard Cohen art #6

Leonard Cohen portrait by Morton Rosengarten

Portrait of Leonard Cohen by Morton Rosengarten

The end of the day – Leonard Cohen art #7

Leonard Cohen art: The end of the day

The end of the day by Leonard Cohen

Sketches – Leonard Cohen art #8 and #9

Leonard Cohen art: "Big Cocktail Julie"

“Big Cocktail Julie” by Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen art: "Traveling Julie"

“Traveling Julie” by Leonard Cohen

If you’d like ROCK ART EDITIONS to profile your private collection of visual art by any rock musician-cum-visual artist, please email me (address in side-bar). I’ll be pleased to preserve your anonymity, if you so wish.

Disclaimer: the ROCK ART EDITIONS Ltd website occasionally publishes content supplied by third parties. Please note that we have no control over and do not vet or guarantee the existence, provenance or legality of any artwork described in such content. Neither do we vouch for the truth or accuracy of any third party content.

Copyright: text © ROCK ART EDITIONS 2016; all pictures © Leonard Cohen. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Leonard Cohen photos: new exhibition documenting the 2008-13 tour

Leonard Cohen photos

Leonard Cohen photos – in concert 2008-2013, © Michael Bromford 2015

A fine new collection of Leonard Cohen photos is now showing in an exhibition in Sherborne, a market town in Dorset, SW England.

The photos are the work of Michael Bromford.  He shot them at the thirty gigs he attended during the once-in-a-generation Leonard Cohen tour of 2008-13. Bromford is exhibiting them in his Global Images Gallery until 26 February 2016.

In addition to the performance photographs of Leonard Cohen, the collection has action shots of all the band members, including Sharon Robinson and Bob Metzger. Michael Bromford is well qualified as a source of Cohen photos – he’s a pro photographer as well as a superfan.

Leonard Cohen photos: online gallery, catalogue and posters

Fans and collectors who can’t make the trip to Sherborne can see the exhibition of Leonard Cohen photos in Michael Bromford’s dedicated online gallery. And they can buy the photos as a catalogue and a series of posters.

Bob Dylan art: good. Ronnie Wood art: not so good. Review of rock musicians who paint

A recent review of rock musicians who paint gives Bob Dylan the thumbs up. Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood isn’t so lucky.

Bob Dylan pastel portraits

Bob Dylan: Face Value, 2013 exhibition, National Portrait Gallery, London. © Gerald Smith 2013

According to Jonathan Jones’s article in The Guardian newspaper (posted on 8 September 2014), Bob Dylan art has “a basic toughness and competence to it – some of his intelligence shines through… (his art) enriches his achievement as a myth maker.”

But “There is no point at all to Ronnie Wood’s art…”, according to Jones.

ROCK | ART | EDITIONS favourite Joni Mitchell has “a style as an artist… paintings that are worth a second look. Perhaps a third… is making art that really matters to her.” Paul Simonon (The Clash) also gets Jones’s seal of approval.

Not so Marilyn Manson (the painting reviewed is “…stupid and incompetent”) or Paul Stanley of Kiss (his sample painting is “dreck… rubbish”).

There’s no mention in the Guardian article of Miles Davis or Leonard Cohen, both highly regarded here, or even Don Van Vliet (aka Capt Beefheart), seen by many as the most accomplished rock muso painter.

Art critic Jonathan Jones certainly knows far more about art than me, so I find his views well worth considering – and I recommend you to read his article. Whether you share Jones’s views is, of course, entirely up to you.

How to judge rock art
I don’t believe there are any objective criteria for assessing a painting – or any other creative work, for that matter.

Being a successful musician doesn’t mean you’ll become the next Rembrandt if you pick up a paintbrush. But it probably means that your chances are slightly higher than the Average (less creative) Joe.

And a few top rockers are demonstrably multi-talented. You want to discuss Bob Dylan’s creativity across different media? How long have you got? Bob Dylan art? I love (much of) it.

Everyone judges a painting (or a piece of music) differently. I suspect that our initial response is emotional and that we then impose intellectual criteria as a secondary process, to validate emotional preferences.

When I start to think about a painting (… music… film… novel…) I usually ask:
* does the work evoke an emotional response?
* does it say anything worthwhile? of interest to me?
* is the execution good enough to let the above shine through?

Artists covered on ROCK | ART | EDITIONS
Judged by these criteria, most rock musicians covered in ROCK | ART | EDITIONS succeed as visual artists. So, I’ll continue to favour painters like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Paul Simonon. Ronnie Wood – and even Marilyn Manson and Paul Stanley – will also be included.

I suspect you won’t be shy in letting me know if you think this is a misjudgment!

Leonard Cohen art: a beginner’s guide

Leonard Cohen art? For investors and collectors?

Certainly!

Leonard Cohen art isn’t as well-known as the work of some other rock musicians, but his limited edition prints demand inclusion in any self-respecting collection of rock art.

The art of Leonard Cohen appeals to the intellect: it has something worthwhile to say. And to the heart: it evokes emotions. It also has a worldview consistent with Leonard Cohen’s better-known creations as a writer, musician and performer.

Maybe because it’s dominated by sparse line drawings, the art of Leonard Cohen takes me back to that of 20thC French creative polymath Jean Cocteau. Like Cohen, Cocteau’s glittering creative trajectory started with poetry. He added visual art to his eclectic cv later.

Leonard Cohen painting and drawing

Leonard Cohen – Grecian Woman, © Leonard Cohen

The art of Leonard Cohen focuses on a handful of key themes – portraits (self-portraits constitute a substantial part of his work), women, often without clothes, and domestic, everyday scenes.

Leonard Cohen pictures, occasionally accompanied by fragments of his writing, are by turns poignant and witty. They are nakedly honest. Some are frivolous, many are dark.

Drawing for pleasure

According to his diligent biographer Ira Nadel, Leonard Cohen has been drawing for pleasure for over half a century – he documented his stay at Columbia University, New York, in 1956-7 in notebooks filled with drawings and caricatures.

Until recently, though, the art of Leonard Cohen remained private. Claims that many of his books and album covers incorporate his artwork don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Even the artwork for his first book, Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956) – which Cohen himself produced and self-published – used illustrations supplied by a friend. Ira Nadel recounts several cases where Cohen’s artwork, intended for book and album covers, was rejected by publishers.

So, while several Leonard Cohen album covers carry drawings and paintings, few are by Cohen. The only CDs clearly using Leonard Cohen artwork are Songs From A Room and the later Dear Heather and Old Ideas.

The artwork of the CDs Greatest Hits, The Future, Cohen Live, More Best Of, Recent Songs, and New Skin For The Old Ceremony is not credited to Cohen. Nor, as I see from today’s Amazon delivery, does Popular Problems carry any Leonard Cohen artwork.

Sharing, for free

Leonard Cohen started sharing his art, effectively giving it away, in 1997. You can still enjoy/download/print/share images on the Blacking Pages section of The Leonard Cohen Files, the exemplary (approved) fan website. And on a dedicated page of the official Leonard Cohen website, which presents 55 images to “view and share”.

An appreciative Stina Lundberg Dabrowski, in a Swedish TV interview (2001), had been surprised to hear that Leonard Cohen drew pictures for pleasure, gave them away, was not interested in commercialising them… had never had an exhibition… .

Many of these images were later published in print form in Book of Longing (2006).

Leonard Cohen art

Book Of Longing, © Leonard Cohen 2007

Leonard Cohen art goes commercial

Soon afterwards, of course, Cohen was forced to rebuild his finances with an unprecedented burst of activity – touring, recording… and monetising his art.

So a selection of line drawings was enhanced by colour and produced as limited edition prints, numbered and signed by Cohen. Edition sizes are typically 100 (for 30″ x 20″ prints) and 20 (30″ x 40″).

Leonard Cohen limited editions have been sold mainly via exhibitions in small commercial galleries in Canada and Europe, including:

2007
June: Drawn to Words, Drabinsky Gallery, Toronto.
July: A Private Gaze, Richard Goodall Gallery, Manchester, England.
A few dozen pigment prints of drawings and sketches. Priced at £1,000-£3,000, according to a report on the impressively detailed Leonard Cohen Through The Years website.

Brian D Johnson (macleans.ca, 12 Jun 2008) asked Cohen: “How did your art exhibit do? Leonard replied “It did very well. And continues to do very well… I was able to pay a lot of lawyers…”

2008
December: Linda Lando Fine Art, Vancouver.

2010
Feb-May: The Leonard Cohen Artworks, Montreal High Lights Festival.
About 50 works, priced at $1,500-6,000, according to a report from The Canadian Press on Leonard Cohen Through The Years.

2012
August: Galleri Ramfjord, Oslo, Norway.

2013
March: The Poet/The Painter, Mayberry Fine Art, Winnipeg.
35 pieces, priced $2,500-7000, according to Carolin Vesely in the Winnipeg Free Press, on Leonard Cohen Through The Years.
August: Galleri Ramfjord, Oslo, Norway.

The highest profile dealer currently selling Leonard Cohen art is the Richard Goodall Gallery, Manchester, England, which lists 56 items in its online shop, inviting potential customers to “contact us for a price”.

Leonard Cohen painting

Leonard Cohen – The End of the Day, © Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen art: the legacy

For the first three quarters of his life, Leonard Cohen chose to keep his artwork to himself. Recent years have seen it receive long-overdue public exposure.

Leonard Cohen art is a fine body of work, enriching his legacy of outstanding albums and live performance and a (slightly less impressive) shelf-full of poetry collections and novels.

If I were curating an exhibition of essential works of rock art, I’d feel compelled to include one or more of Leonard Cohen’s evocative limited edition prints.

Further information

Researching this post in my private library and online, I found the following sources helpful in verifying and cross-checking information. They will enable you to dig deeper.
* Ira B Nadel, Various Positions: A Life Of Leonard Cohen, Bloomsbury, 1996
* Jeff Burger (ed), Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen, Omnibus, 2014
Leonard Cohen official website
The Leonard Cohen Files
Leonard Cohen Through The Years

© ROCK | ART | EDITIONS 2014

Leonard Cohen art: beginner’s guide – coming soon

Though Leonard Cohen art is not that well known, the singer, 80 tomorrow, is a key rock artist.   I find his artwork moving and will be publishing a Beginner’s Guide to Leonard Cohen art in a couple of days.

Here’s a taster.

Paris Again is one of my favourite pieces of Leonard Cohen art.  I feel as though I’ve been to that exact spot in Paris dozens of times.  I’d bet it’s the little park planted with rows of lime trees just outside Invalides Métro station on the Left Bank.  if not, it’s got to be near the tennis courts in the Jardin du Luxembourg!

Leonard Cohen art: drawing painting limited edition artwork

Leonard Cohen art: Paris Again, © Leonard Cohen

As you’ll see from my Beginner’s Guide in a few days time, Leonard Cohen art comprises drawings and paintings.  They have been published in books, enriching his prose and poetry, and as stand-alone limited edition prints.

His main subjects are portraits, especially self-portraits, life studies of women, with and without clothes, and snapshots of la vie quotidienne – everyday life.  Last time I checked, Leonard Cohen had exhibited his art in half a dozen shows in small private galleries in the last few years.

If you have any favourite pieces among the substantial body of art by Leonard Cohen, please share them with fellow readers of ROCK ART EDITIONS.