Ira Cohen, ‘William Burroughs and his Gilded Cobra’, 1966, October Gallery

About Ira Cohen

Working as a publisher, poet, filmmaker, and photographer, Ira Cohen was at the center of a creative generation that included the Beats, Jimi Hendrix, and Jack Smith, among others. Cohen photographed the downtown New York social scene of the 1960s, straying from the conventions of portraiture by capturing his subjects’ reflections in a Mylar chamber that he assembled in his loft. Cohen’s warped portraits of individuals such as William Burroughs and Alejandro Jodorowsky channel the spirit of that aesthetic circuit while bringing a psychedelic sensibility to a medium conventionally reserved for mimesis. In the 1970s, Cohen took his camera out of his Mylar chamber and went into the world, maintaining his interest in the members of his New York milieu while also focusing on the people of South Asia.

American, 1935-2011