At a wall-to-wall packed opening at the Grey Art Gallery, photographer/ filmmaker / musician John Cohen held court in front of a video installation of some vintage photographs he took at the heyday of artist owned galleries on 10th Street. Talk about a fascinating pocket of art history! "Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City 1952-1965" features paintings by Alex Katz, Jim Dine, Jane Wilson and other noted artists of the midcentury, Dan Flavin, George Segal, exhibited in the context of the galleries: Tanager, Hansa, Brata, Delancey Street Museum, to name a few. A John Cohen photograph graces the handsome exhibition catalogue's cover: Red Grooms crossing Third Avenue, transporting artwork in what looks like a baby buggy to the Reuben Gallery in 1960.
This exhibition and another at Madison Avenue's L. Parker Stephenson Gallery marks a synergistic moment for John Cohen, who also had photos in the New Museum's exceptional "Keepers" exhibition, and the expansive "Beat Generation" show at the Centre Pompidou this past summer, co-curated by Jean-Jacques Lebel, an artist included at the Grey Gallery show. As a photographer, Cohen shot the stills of the classic Robert Frank/ Alfred Leslie Pull My Daisy, and made some important historic films of his own to be shown this weekend at Anthology Film Archives. A Steidl book with the poetic title, Cheap Rents and de Kooning, serves as a catalogue for Cohen's show uptown and says much about art's bygone era in New York City!
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.