John Cohen

John Cohen (1932-2019) was an American folk musician and musicologist, photographer and filmmaker. Some of his best-known images document the Abstract Expressionist scene centered on New York’s Cedar Bar; young Bob Dylan’s arrival in New York; Beat Generation writers during the filming of Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie’s film Pull My Daisy; and the “old time” musicians of Appalachia. He was one of the most important “discoverers” of traditional musicians and singers, finding and recording many banjo players. Cohen traveled extensively to Peru, driven by a fascination for the lifestyle of the native Andean population. His field recording of a Peruvian wedding song is included on the Voyager Golden Record, attached to the Voyager spacecraft. From 1972 to 1997, Cohen was a Professor of Visual Arts at SUNY Purchase College where he taught photography and drawing. The Library of Congress acquired John Cohen’s archive, which includes his films, photographs, music recordings and other historic ephemera in 2011.