Mark Cohen came on the national scene in the 1970’s as a street photographer shooting extreme close-ups of random strangers in coal-mining towns. His work will be featured at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through February.
Mark Cohen never puts his eye to the viewer of his 35 millimeter camera. He holds it at arms length and sticks the wide-angle lens literally inches from the face of random passersby. It’s a guerrilla technique that upsets many people, but can yield pictures of accidental beauty.
Cohen says, “It’s a lot of fun to do this – I was energized as I took these pictures. I was out having a good time.”
Most of the show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art come from Cohen’s heyday in the 1970’s, with more recent work mixed in. Although they span four decades, his photos of the streets of blue-collar mining towns like Scranton and Wilkes-Barre look remarkably similar. Cohen says since 9/11 he has had to change his in-your-face style.
“People are much more suspicious,” he says. ” I would try to take a picture and they were threatening me – grabbing me. It got to the point where I couldn’t do the work I wanted to do with a wide-angle lens. I had to get further away.”
The photos of Mark Cohen will be on display in the Art Museum’s Perelman Building until February.