Lynne Cohen, Photographer of Eerie Interiors, 1944–2014

Lynne Cohen Photo: James Hyman Gallery, London
Lynne Cohen Photo: James Hyman Gallery, London

American, Montreal-based photographer Lynne Cohen died last week at the age of 69, following a protracted battle with cancer. Cohen’s often-eerie images of interiors devoid of human presence have been actively exhibited since the 1970s. The works have a striking resemblance to those of Thomas Demand. Differing from Demand’s use of models, Cohen sought out the odd and uncanny rooms of her immediate, real environment.

In recognition of that work, Cohen won the first edition of the $50,000 Scotiabank Photography Award in 2011, nearly concurrently to her cancer diagnosis. Speaking to Canada’s National Post at the time, she said of the inspiration behind her distinctive practice: “I’m amazed at how the so-called real world looks like a finished piece of contemporary art in a museum,” and that from the early stages of her practice she said, “I wanted to photograph these ready-made installations. I wanted to treat the world as if it were my studio.”

Other career highlights include exhibitions at New York’s International Center of Photography (1978), at Zurich’s Museum für Gestaltung (1989), at Marfa’s Chinati Foundation (1992), and at the 42nd Rencontres d’Arles (2011) where she was named that year’s Discovery Award recipient.

Cohen was given only six months to live when diagnosed with stage four lung cancer three years ago. In a statement posted on Facebook, her Toronto gallery of 14 years, Olga Korper Gallery wrote: “Against all odds, those close to her admired the ferocity of her fight, which can only be described as triumphant…We feel incredibly privileged to have worked with her and reveled in her tremendous character and passion for her work.”

Aside from Korper, Cohen’s work is represented by Galerie Rodolphe Janssen in Brussels, Galerie Wilma Tolksdorf in Frankfurt, and In Situ Fabienne Leclerc in Paris.

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