Leonard Cohen, The Monk Who Loved Women By Michel Hajji Georgiou With Art By Ivan Debs


This exquisite cartoon illustrates Leonard Cohen, The Monk Who Loved Women by Michel Hajji Georgiou, a full page article about Leonard and his relationships with his several muses published 40 days after his death in L’Orient-Le Jour. Written in French, it survives Google Translate to be a good read in English as well.

Why Leonard Cohen “warmed up to pop art right away”

I saw pop art the same way I saw everything else: there was an effort to personalize art, to do away with academic art. Pop art was derived from our present culture, our canned goods, our comic strips. I warmed up to pop art right away because I wanted our art to speak of us, just as I wanted our music to speak of us. Everything was going in that direction; that was part of the excitement. We sensed that there was beauty, dignity, a significance in things that so much of the world found vulgar or infantile. Not at all, it was our world, why not celebrate it?quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Comme Un Guerrier by Christian Fevret (Throat Culture magazine, 1992)

Note: Originally posted January 17, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Help The MAC Create The 2017 Montreal Leonard Cohen Exhibition: Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything


Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal

The Exhibition

In fall 2017, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, more familiarly known as the MAC, will present Leonard Cohen: Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything, an exhibition of international scope that will also be part of the festivities for Montréal’s 375th anniversary.

Created exclusively for the MAC for the occasion, this multidisciplinary exhibition will allow the Musée to offer the public a collection of brand-new works commissioned from and created by local and international artists who were inspired by the great master’s style and recurring themes. These artists represent the visual arts, performance art, music, the written word and film, thus providing visitors with a dynamic, participative and immersive experience.  (Source: MAC website)

Victor Shiffman, Guest Curator at the Mac and Co-Curator, along with MAC Director John Zeppetelli, of the Cohen exhibition, writes

We have confirmed the participation of the CBC / Radio Canada who will be partnering with the MAC to create and produce multiple forms of content for their TV, Radio and online platforms. We are also partnering with the NFB/ONF to co-produce a specially designed interactive participatory experience. The CBC/SRC, the NFB/ONF and The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto (repository of Cohen’s personal archives) have agreed to provide unlimited archival access to the museum and participating artists. We are also honored to have received the direct support from Leonard Cohen and his team enabling access to his life’s work; his writings drawings and music recordings.

More information can be found at the MAC website.

Call For Information

Cohen fans can make a direct contribution to Leonard Cohen: Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything  in the form of information and media. Victor Shiffman has requested our assistance in collecting specific data in two areas.

  1. Leonard Cohen’s Early Musical Influences: Ari Benjamin Myers, one of the exhibition’s participating, artists is interested to learn more about the origins of Leonard’s musicality. He is specifically interested to learn more about the encounter(s) that took place between Maury Kaye and Leonard in the 50’s. We of course have listened to Leonard’s first performance at Dunn’s in 1958. [see Leonard Cohen & All That (Montreal) Jazz] Fascinating! Would you by chance have access to the entire recording? Do you know if there is any more recorded material from that period? Ari is also interested to learn about the sings that Masha would sing to Leonard as a child. We have read that she used to sign lullabies in Russian and Yiddish. Would you know anything more about this? As well we are interested to learn if there is any recording available of the Buckskins Boys?
  2. Recordings Of Leonard Cohen Speaking/Singing In French: In association with the same project, Gabrielle, a research assistant for the MAC, is researching Leonard conversing in French and building a database sourced from interviews, concerts, and poetry recitals. Please let us know if you have any  (or know of any) audio or video recordings where Leonard is speaking french.

How To Contribute Information

Please email answers to the questions raised above, data, and audio/video recordings or links to audio/video recordings to this address:

[email protected]

Questions about the project should also be sent to that address. My experience is that responses left in the comments, emailed to other addresses, or sent by messenger/text are all too easily lost.

I will organize the material, post a listing of the accumulated findings on this site, and forward the results to the MAC.

Note: Contributors may be identified by name in the exhibition’s literature; if you wish to contribute anonymously, please specify that in the email message.

Credit Due Department: By sprklgMusée d’art contemporain de Montréal, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikipedia

Showing It Darker: Martin Ferrabee’s Vision Of You Want It Darker By Leonard Cohen + Notes By David Peloquin

You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen
Video by Martin Ferrabee

Martin Ferrabee: Showing It Darker
A Commentary On His Video: You Want It Darker
By David Peloquin

Update: Also see Martin Ferrabee On The Conceptual Making Of His You Want It Darker Video

Anyone who has been following Cohencentric over the last year has seen the mesmerizing video montages of Martin Ferrabee. My introduction to his work was in August of last year when I viewed his Dance Me To the End of Love. I remember thinking that here is an artist who really understands the language of symbolic imagery! Martin’s videos run the gamut from the darkly whimsical to the transcendent and the ineffably profound. His intuitions are uncanny.

Martin and I began an extended conversation that always included a plan to work together on some project for Cohencentric. That moment has arrived with the posting of Martin’s video: Showing it Darker. Martin has invited me to say a few words about a work of art that I feel resists any casual explanation. Rather than analyze, I will simply offer my own personal experience while watching the film. It stands on its own as a powerful glimpse into the darkness that continues to gather in our world.

The video opens with a direct reference to Stanley Kubrick’s film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. I had a small chuckle when Leonard’s album cover for You Want it Darker, hanging in space, appeared between the Star Child and Earth. But the piece gets dark fast, and this is the last (and only) laugh.

The primates in Kubrick’s film have an encounter with a monolith that awakens their potential for evolving consciousness. In Martin’s video, Leonard shares this role with the monolith; the implication being that Cohen is calling for a more evolved consciousness as well. We could say that Leonard is inviting the Star Child to pass, just behind the famous fedora, through the window of Light and Darkness to the blue atmosphere of Earth. This is a kind of Gate that we as well pass through, along with the Star Child, for a short but harrowing journey through some of the darkest iconic moments of our time.

The powerful images that follow the opening sequence are visceral and potent. Coupled with Leonard’s music and lyric, I was pulled into an ever-deepening phantasmagoria of cascading sorrows. After watching it for the first time, I thought of Leonard’s dark walk through the song Amen from Old Ideas:

Tell me again
When I’ve seen through the horror
Tell me again
Tell me over and over
Tell me that you want me then

The video closes with a bookend reprise of the Star Child and Leonard. We leave by the same Gate that we crossed going in. Our journey was a short one, a little over five minutes. But as with all art that moves us deeply, we are taken out of common time and plunged into time out of time; arrested, profoundly engaged, and touched to our core.

The evolution of human consciousness is a thrilling story that has taken many twisted turns along its meandering way. Stanley Kubrick was well known for his misanthropic view of the human race, and it appears all through his work. The question that mankind has been asking for quite some time now is whether or not we will survive our darker angels, or whether we are capable of releasing the Light that we cover with shadows. This is what Ken Wilber calls the Good and Bad news of modernity. The good news is our slow but steady growth to a world centric, compassionate embrace of all life on our luminous planet. The bad news is that 70% of the world is still locked in fundamentalist religion and other ethnocentric worldviews. In these contracted views, the light is only for the chosen few: the true believer. Martin’s video captures this complex conundrum with a startling use of symbolic visual language.

As a final reflection, I would say that art has many faces. One of its most important aspects is to hold up an unflinching mirror that reflects everything and rejects nothing; to show both the darkness we are capable of, and the Light that we truly are. Leonard Cohen has been such a mirror for us from the beginning. With the first song from his first album, Suzanne, this sensibility is already fully present, including the mirror:

And the sun pours down like honey
on our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
there are children in the morning
they are leaning out for love
they will lean that way forever
while Suzanne holds the mirror

Thank you Martin for your inexhaustible capacity to produce visual meditations on the work of one of our greatest visionaries. And if I may speak for all us who have been Ravished by the Song that was Leonard Cohen, immeasurable gratitude to the man who gave us so much Light in a time of great darkness.

Oana Cajal’s “So Long, Leonard” Video: You Want It Darker By Leonard Cohen


Oana Cajal writes:

This video is an expression of our endless love for LC, the Master Reconciliator of Man and his paradoxical, mysterious shadow.
It’s the crack in the wall of our dark times and growing despair.
It’s a sacred tear of infinite sorrow and vibrant hope.
It’s our grief of losing Leonard and our joy of having been touched by his conjuring
faith in the beauty of human imperfections.
It’s our prayer that the voice of God welcomed Leonard in the heaven of flawless verse
and allowed him to serve in the blessed garden of forgiveness.
But, to quote him, “That’s getting too heavy. I’m sorry. Strike that!”
So long Leonard…

Oana and Stefan Cajal’s evocative, Leonard Cohen-themed videos have been cherished features at Cohencentric. All Cajal videos can be found at Oana Maria Cajal.