Mark Cohen was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania where he lived and photographed for most of his life. His work was first exhibited in 1969 at the George Eastman House. Known primarily for his black and white images, he was also a pioneer of the 1970s color movement.
Cohen is the quintessential street photographer, using an aggressive approach in which he closes in on strangers with a camera and flash before they’re aware of being photographed. His stark images made on the streets of Wilkes-Barre and other working-class Pennsylvania towns capture moments, gestures, and emotions that, because they might be invisible to others’ sensibilities, testify to Cohen’s innately superior perception, his gift of precise and ingenious visual ordering. His work received early recognition, with a one-person show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1973 when he was just thirty, and it has garnered critical acclaim ever since. Today, Cohen’s work is held in over thirty prominent international collections, ranging from the Metropolitan Museum in New York City to the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.