Lynne Cohen

"My work has always been about psychological, sociological, intellectual and political artifice. This is apparent in the early pictures, but in recent years it is clearer still. I am now more preoccupied by deception, claustrophobia, manipulation and control… I take my work to be social and political but there is no concrete message. Perhaps that is why I feel much closer in spirit to Jacques Tati than to Michel Foucault."

- Lynne Cohen, 2001

Lynne Cohen is an internationally renowned photographer who presents striking images of interior domestic or work settings. Her scenes, usually photographed in black and white, are notable for their flat lighting and absence of human figures. These photographs are at times humourous, and at times disturbing.

Cohen received her Master’s degree in Fine Arts from Eastern Michigan University, with a year spent at London’s Slade School of Fine Art. There, she was influenced by British Pop artist Richard Hamilton. Other influential contemporaries included Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg. As a young sculptor and print-maker, Cohen was fascinated by photography techniques used in advertising, real estate, and postcards, and by synthetic materials as subject matter. By 1971, Cohen was working as a photographer, taking an interest in the neutral lighting, depth of field and composition she saw in mail-order catalogues. Early works, such as Living Room, Ann Arbor, Michigan, illustrate her interest in domestic interiors. In later work, the enlarged pictures present work and public spaces, as in Practice Range, Police School, Ottawa, Spa, and Laboratory.

Lynne Cohen taught photography at the University of Ottawa from 1974 to 2005. She is a Governor General’s Award winner and recipient of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Logan Award and the Canada Council’s Victor Martin Lynch-Staunton Award.