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Experience Leonard Cohen

Aug 5, 2021–Feb 13, 2022

Leonard Cohen’s words gave voice to the human condition, in all of its grace and imperfection—and to this day, they continue to inspire generations of artists, musicians, and writers. This inspiration is at the heart of Experience Leonard Cohen: a series of four solo exhibitions that present immersive and intimate artworks by contemporary artists George Fok, Judy Chicago, Candice Breitz, and Marshall Trammell, all inspired by the life and work of Leonard Cohen (1934–2016), the influential musician, man of letters, and global icon from Montréal, Canada.

Through his poetry, novels, songs, and lyrics, Leonard Cohen expressed the complexities and desires of body and soul—a compelling metaphor for the twenty-first century Jewish experience. An observant Jew, Cohen also deeply explored Buddhism and various other world views. His commitment to questions of spirituality and existence shines through in songs such as “Suzanne,” “Bird on a Wire,” and “Hallelujah,” which masterfully combine mystery and universality with sacred and profane, and are now imprinted on our collective memory. These four exhibitions invite you to find new connections to the poetry, music, and lyrics of the late legend through artworks inspired by his enduring legacy.

Experience Leonard Cohen draws on Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, organized by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) and curated by John Zeppetelli, Director and Chief Curator at the MAC, and Victor Shiffman, Guest Curator. Experience Leonard Cohen is organized at The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) by Heidi Rabben, Senior Curator, and Justin Limoges, Director of Exhibitions.

Preview the Exhibitions

September 18, 2021–February 13, 2022

Koshland Gallery

I’m Your Man (A Portrait of Leonard Cohen) is a nineteen-channel video installation by Candice Breitz. The work brings together a community of ardent Leonard Cohen fans—each of whom has cherished Cohen’s music for over half a century—to pay posthumous tribute to Cohen in a poignant re-performance of the late legend's comeback album, I'm Your Man (1988).


September 18, 2021–February 13, 2022

Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt Yud Gallery

Marshall Trammell in Residence offers reflections on Leonard Cohen’s life, spirituality, and musical practice in real time. In a dynamic performance residency, Oakland-based artist Marshall Trammell will periodically inhabit The CJM’s Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt Yud gallery to explore diverse facets of Cohen's legacy through improvisation, performance, and collaborative re-contextualization.

George Fok: Passing Through

August 5, 2021–January 2, 2022

Swig and Dinner Family Gallery

George Fok’s Passing Through is an immersive audiovisual work that celebrates Leonard Cohen’s singular voice, influential music, charismatic persona, and inimitable stage presence through a collage of collective memories, concert footage, and emotions that have enchanted generations of fans around the world.

Judy Chicago: Cohanim

August 5, 2021–January 2, 2022

Sala Webb Education Center Vitrine

Judy Chicago: Cohanim is a series of works by inimitable artist Judy Chicago, featuring twelve paintings on porcelain created as a personal tribute to Leonard Cohen's lyrics and what they have meant to the artist throughout her life.

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Lead sponsorship of Experience Leonard Cohen is generously provided by Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) thanks Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt, The Bernard Osher Foundation, Suzanne and Elliott Felson, the John Pritzker Family Fund, the Irving and Eleanor Jaffe Foundation, Taube Philanthropies, Kendra and Tom Kasten, Jessica Silverman, and Meyer Sound for generously supporting the exhibition. 

Media Sponsorship is provided by the San Francisco Chronicle. In-kind support is provided by Where the Buffalo Roam.

The CJM thanks the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) for its support of the exhibition. Robert Kory provided invaluable assistance in the successful organization of Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything.

Image Credit

Header image: Courtesy of Old Ideas, LLC