The interest shown in a photo of Leonard Cohen by Guido Harari, previously published at What’s In Your Bag? The Leonard Cohen Version: Snake Tattoo, Girlfriend Photo, Airplane Tickets, AIDS Test Card, prompted today’s offering. Guido Harari’s unique photos of Leonard Cohen feature the Canadian singer-songwriter in poses and settings that are unusual and unexpected but somehow apt and relevant. The results are sometimes striking, sometimes amusing, and sometimes provocative, but always revealing. The photographer writes with the story behind the two shots displayed in this post.
On May 12, 1988 Leonard Cohen was promoting ‘I’m Your Man’ in Milano, Italy. I had photographed him several times already, and he had always been very game with my ideas. I knew he would always get a kick out of any eccentric suggestion: ‘Hey, Leonard, get into that yoga position upside down,’ or ‘Let’s get a few shots with you barechested and your girlfriend in the background!’ On this occasion I set up my portable studio in his hotel for some formal and also not so formal portraits against a cloth backdrop. After pulling some moody expressions and funny faces, he moved into this position with his hands framing his face, which, for some reason, reminded me of a self-portrait of famous painter Egon Schiele. Schiele had also very much inspired Bowie in his paintings and the photos that Sukita took for the ‘Heroes’ album cover. But here the inspiration worked on a very subliminal level. I was very pleased with this sequence, but – never one not to push my luck – I asked Cohen if I could take a photograph of him with the content of his suitcase. He immediately went for it, and we moved to his room upstairs. He tossed the contents of his suitcase onto his bed and there was the perfect book with a perfectly revelatory title – ‘Intercourse.’ Great, I thought, and then he panicked over his powder papers: ‘I have oily skin, you know.’ Oh, Leonard!!
I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on AllanShowalter.com (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted Feb 21, 2018.