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Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything

Opening in April 2019, the Jewish Museum presents a contemporary art exhibition inspired by the themes of Leonard Cohen’s life and work.

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.

—Leonard Cohen

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 a 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.

Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything is the first exhibition entirely devoted to the imagination and legacy of the influential singer/songwriter, man of letters, and global icon from Montréal, Canada. The exhibition includes commissioned works by a range of international artists who have been inspired by Cohen’s style and recurring themes in his work, a video projection showcasing Cohen’s own drawings, and an innovative multimedia gallery where visitors can hear covers of Cohen’s songs by musicians such as Lou Doillon; Feist; Moby; and The National with Sufjan Stevens, Ragnar Kjartansson, and Richard Reed Parry, among others.

Participating Artists:

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
Taryn Simon

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Organized by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC), the exhibition is curated by John Zeppetelli, Director and Chief Curator at the MAC, and Victor Shiffman, Guest Curator. The New York presentation is coordinated for the Jewish Museum by Kelly Taxter, Barnett and Annalee Newman Curator of Contemporary Art, and Ruth Beech, Senior Deputy Director, Programs & Strategic Initiatives.

The presentation of Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything at the Jewish Museum is made possible by the Wilf Family Foundation, the Goldie and David Blanksteen Foundation, and Jane and Reuben Leibowitz.

Additional support is provided through The Skirball Fund for American Jewish Life Exhibitions, the Melva Bucksbaum Fund for Contemporary Art, and the Joan Rosenbaum Exhibition Endowment.

The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) thanks Leonard Cohen for his support of the exhibition. Robert Kory, Adam Cohen, and Lorca Cohen, provided invaluable assistance to the successful organization of this project.
The MAC is pleased to be associated with local institutional partners who have generously contributed to the production of this exhibition. The MAC extends its warm thanks to CBC/Radio-Canada, the exhibition presenter and creator of exclusive content for the exhibition. CBC/Radio-Canada also made its archives available at no charge to the artists creating work for this project.
Co-curatorial partners provided specific support in the realization of this exhibition. The MAC wishes to thank the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), which also made their full archives available free-of charge to the artists. The MAC and NFB are co-curators and coproducers of a work of art with the Daily tous les jours collective.
The MAC thanks Sony Music and Sony ATV for granting permission to use the songs and archival video material of Leonard Cohen to the artists and for the purpose of the exhibition.

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