Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything at The Jewish Museum, April 12 – September 8, 2019

“The Jewish Museum presents Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, a contemporary art exhibition devoted to the imagination and legacy of the influential singer/songwriter, man of letters, and global icon from Montreal, Canada.

Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything includes commissioned works by a range of international artists who have been inspired by Cohen’s life, work and legacy. The New York presentation will include Kara Blake, Candice Breitz, Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Christophe Chassol, Daily tous les jours, Tacita Dean, Kota Ezawa, George Fok, Ari Folman, Jon Rafman, and Taryn Simon. The exhibition will also include a video projection showcasing Cohen’s own drawings, as well as an innovative multimedia gallery where visitors can hear covers of Cohen’s songs by musicians such as Lou Doillon, Feist, Moby, The National with Sufjan Stevens, Ragnar Kjartansson, and Richard Reed Parry, among others.

A world-renowned novelist, poet, and singer/songwriter who inspired generations of writers, musicians, and artists, Leonard Cohen (1934-2016) was an extraordinary poet of the imperfection of the human condition, giving voice to what it means to be fully alert to the complexities and desires of both body and soul. For decades, he tenaciously supplied the world with melancholy and urgent observations on the state of the human heart, in songs such as “Suzanne,” “Bird on the Wire,” and “Hallelujah.” With equal parts gravitas and grace, Cohen teased out a startlingly inventive and singular language, depicting both an exalted spirituality and an earthly sexuality. His interweaving of the sacred and the profane, of mystery and accessibility, was such a compelling combination it became seared into memory.” — The Jewish Museum

The exhibition takes its title from Cohen’s song “Anthem” from the album The Future (1992): Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. 

Kara Blake, The Offerings, 2017. Five-channel video installation, black-and-white and colour with sound, 35 min. Exhibition view of Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything presented at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 2017-2018. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Guy L’Heureux

Kara Blake, The Offerings, 2017. Five-channel video installation, black-and-white and colour with sound, 35 min. Exhibition view of Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything presented at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 2017-2018. Documentation illustration: Kara Blake

Candice Breitz, I’m Your Man (A Portrait of Leonard Cohen), 2017. Shot at the Phi Centre, Montreal, May-June 2017. Nineteen-channel video installation, colour with sound, 40 min., 43 sec., featured on eighteen suspended monitors and one single-screen projection. Collection of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC). Installation detail (partial view) of the exhibition Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything presented at the MAC, 2017-2018. Photo: Guy L’Heureux

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, The Poetry Machine, 2017. Interactive audio/mixed-media installation including organ, speakers, carpet, computer and electronics. All poetry written and performed by Leonard Cohen from Book of Longing, published in 2006 by McClelland & Stewart. Exhibition view of Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything presented at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 2017-2018. Courtesy of the artists; Luhring Augustine, New York; Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco; and Koyanagi Gallery, Tokyo. Photo: Guy L’Heureux

Self-portrait by Leonard Cohen (It-was-the-hat, 2007), from the projection of drawings Self-Portraits 2003-2016 produced by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Courtesy of and © Leonard Cohen Family Trust

Daily tous les jours, I Heard There Was A Secret Chord, 2017. Participatory audio installation, octagonal architectural environment, including microphones, speakers, transducers, and digital display. Produced by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. Exhibition view of Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything presented at the MAC, 2017-2018. Courtesy of Daily tous les jours. Photo: Geoffrey Boulangé

Kota Ezawa, Cohen 21, 2017 (still). Digital animation, black-and-white with sound, 2 min., 30 sec. Collection of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Courtesy of the artist

George Fok, Passing Through, 2017. Multichannel video installation, black-and-white and colour with sound, 56 min., 15 sec. Exhibition view of Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything presented at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 2017-2018. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Richard-Max Tremblay

George Fok, Passing Through, 2017. Multichannel video installation, black-and-white and colour with sound, 56 min., 15 sec. Exhibition view of Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything presented at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 2017-2018. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Guy L’Heureux

George Fok, Passing Through, 2017. Multichannel video installation, black-and-white and colour with sound, 56 min., 15 sec. Exhibition view of Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything presented at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 2017-2018. Courtesy and photo: George Fok

Taryn Simon, The New York Times, Friday, November 11, 2016. Back issue of The New York Times newspaper (dated November 11, 2016), 22 x 12 ¼ x 3/8 in. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Listening to Leonard, 2017. Multimedia audio environment with sound recordings of Leonard Cohen compositions produced, arranged, and performed by a group of musicians and vocalists. Exhibition view of Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything presented at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 2017-2018. Photo: Guy L’Heureux

Leonard Cohen. Courtesy of Old Ideas, LLC

Organized by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC), where it debuted, the exhibition is curated by John Zeppetelli, Director and Chief Curator at the MAC, and Victor Shiffman, Co-Curator. Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything will embark on a tour, with the Jewish Museum as its first stop. Following its New York presentation, the exhibition will travel to Copenhagen and San Francisco.

All works commissioned and/or produced by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Images courtesy The Jewish Museum.