Home Artists Jeff Cowen

Kooness

Jeff Cowen

1966
New York, United States

9 Works exhibited on Kooness

Represented by

Jeff Cowen will show a selection of works focused on the artist’s life-long investigation exploring the conceptual and technical potential of photography, an art form which is still in its early evolutionary stages. Cowen’s work examines the poetics of the non-visible world by means of mating the power of photography and painting. The image taken by the camera is not the final product but marks only the starting point of the artistic reflection of the motif.

The unique analog prints are attacked with various chemical procedures, mark-making, brushwork, and often contain post-darkroom finishing techniques of painting and collage. The images are not presented flat and take on a more three-dimensional, sculptural and textural look. Paradoxically, Cowen´s photographic work is less concerned with the ephemeral than it is with reflecting the unknown and eternal realms.

Jeff Cowen (b. 1966) grew up on New York’s Upper West Side and graduated in Oriental Studies from New York University and Waseda University Tokyo. He moved in the late 1980s to the Meatpacking District in New York City and earned his living as a taxi cab
driver. In his first series “West 14th Street”, he photographed the district’s transgender sex workers which were bought by the New-York Historical Society for its permanent collection.

Also during this period, he worked as an assistant to Larry Clark and Ralph Gibson, a time he used in order to familiarize himself with various darkroom techniques. In the 1990’s he studied academic drawing and painting at the Art Students League and the New York Studio School.

Cowen’s interest in poetry, aesthetics, and the non-visible world has eventually led him to explore the conceptual, experimental terrain of black and white film photography. From a technical perspective, Cowen’s work explores the evolutionary potential of the photographic medium, which is, in his opinion, still a young art form. He has particularly been interested in mating the power of painting with the power of photography. Jeff Cowen uses only analogue photography in a variety of negative formats from 35mm to 8 x 10. All the prints are made in his customised darkroom. The analogue image taken by the camera is not the final product but marks only the starting point of the artistic reflection of the motif. The prints are attacked with various chemical procedures, mark-making, brushwork, and often contain post darkroom finishing techniques of painting and collage.

The images are not presented flat and take on a more three dimensional, sculptural and textural look. One of his chief concerns in his art practice is to build on the rich history of the photographic past and to explore and expand the limits of the medium. Following the attacks of 11, September 2001 he moved to Paris. In 2007 he relocated his studio to the Kreuzberg district of Berlin. He currently works between Berlin and Aix en Provence, France.

Jeff Cowen’s works are included in numerous public and private collections. In 2019, the private collection MAP from Bremen acquired a substantial body of Cowen’s work from the last 10 years. His works have been shown in Kunsthalle Bremerhaven, Germany; DZ Bank Art Collection Frankfurt, Germany; Ludwig Museum, Koblenz, Germany; Huis Marseille, Museum for Photography, Amsterdam, Netherland; Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Russia; among others. In 2021, Jeff Cowen was nominated and awarded the Pollock Krasner Grant for Fine Art Still Photography.