Leonard Cohen and Ralph Gibson At Galerie Agathe Gaillard, Paris

Who Is Ralph Gibson?

Before answering my own suspiciously convenient rhetorical question, I should explain how this query arose: I saw the above photo posted, among other shots of Leonard Cohen, somewhere online without any identification of the subjects, the photographer, the location, the date, the occasion, … Now, Leonard Cohen is photographed with lots of folks in whom the typical viewer would have little interest (e.g., fans, restaurant staff, minor politicians, and the occasional blogger). This photo, however, seemed to carry more significance than would a casual snapshot of one more anonymous well-wisher or someone hoping to snag an autograph to sell on eBay.

After searching, I identified the figure on the right as Ralph Gibson, the photographer as Yvette Troispoux, and the event as an opening of Ralph Gibson ‘s work at the Galerie Agathe Gaillard  (no date). Of course, as a card-carrying Philistine, I still had no idea who Ralph Gibson was or why Leonard Cohen was pictured with him

Ralph Gibson is …

best known, in the words of Wikipedia, as “an American art photographer.” From my reading, he, in fact, appears to fall into the category of well-known and much respected by his peers but misses the cut for the photographer-rock star classification (aka photographers recognized by the general public). A generous sampling of his work can be found at his web site.

Leonard Cohen – Ralph Gibson Connections

The earliest connection between Ralph Gibson and Leonard Cohen began in the late 1960s when both artists were residents of the Chelsea Hotel and where Gibson printed “his photographs for The Somnambulist, his first Lustrum photography book in his tiny kitchenette.”1

Leonard Cohen and Ralph Gibson, along with John Cage, Allen Ginsberg, and others also provided financial and editorial support for a “critically-acclaimed literary journal, Zero.”2

Finally, it turns out that Ralph Gibson worked on a project for Leonard Cohen. Specifically, Ralph Gibson played guitar on Leonard Cohen’s New Skin For The Old Ceremony album and is correspondingly credited for his efforts.

One source3 indicates Gibson also toured with Cohen, but I can’t find independent confirmation of that.

One might presume that a big time photographer who knew and performed with Leonard Cohen would have taken batches of photos of the Canadian singer-songwriter. At time of posting, however, I found only one such shot, “Leonard Cohen, Montreal, 1973 [on bed with guitar]” listed in a catalog of Gibson’s work. The photo is displayed on several web sites, including fleurmach.

Credit Due Department: Photo by Yvette Troispoux. The art from New Skin For The Old Ceremony album showing the credits was contributed by Dominique BOILE.

  1. Source: Chelsea Hotel Through the Eyes of Photographers Exhibit by Wendy R. Williams, posted at New York Cool. []
  2. Source: Bill Womack bio at Helios web site. []
  3. When Time Stands Still by Leif Wigh. Posted at Moderna Museet: 2009 []

Leonard Cohen 1985 – Photo By Richard Dumas

Photo: Leonard Cohen Plays Grant Hall, Queen’s University In Kingston – 1970

Note: While the photo is inscribed “Leonard Cohen, Grant Hall 1974,” I find no reference to a Leonard Cohen show in Kingston that year.  He did, however, play a concert at Grant Hall (shown below), Queen’s University in Kingston on October 15, 1970.

Thanks to Gordana Stupar, who alerted me to this photo

3 Years Ago: Leonard Cohen & DrHGuy – Hanging In The Hood


On Aug 6, 2014, the Duchess & I spent a sunny afternoon with Leonard Cohen and his personal assistant, Kezban Özcan, at his home in Los Angeles. Read about that visit at


Credit Due Department: Photo atop this post taken by Penny Showalter

Never Before Published Photo: Leonard Cohen at Hotel de Crillon – Paris 2012

Dominique BOILE forwards this never before published photo he took at the Jan 16, 2012 Paris event1 promoting Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas album. More of Dominique’s photos from this event can be found at

Exhibition Of Claude Gassian’s Photos Of Leonard Cohen – Lyon

CHEMA of Barcelona sends these photos of the Exhibition Of Claude Gassian’s Photos Of Leonard Cohen that is now open in Lyon.

Other posts on the Claude Gassian show: which originated in Paris: