Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything

April 12 - September 8, 2019

Featuring 14 artists and 18 musicians from 10 countries, this exhibition offers a deep and rich exploration of the beloved global icon through the lens of contemporary art.

Leonard Cohen. Courtesy of Old Ideas, LLC

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

—Leonard Cohen

A world-renowned novelist, poet, and singer/songwriter who inspired generations of writers, musicians, and artists, Leonard Cohen (1934-2016) was an extraordinary poet of the imperfection of the human condition, giving voice to what it means to be fully alert to the complexities and desires of both body and soul. For decades, he tenaciously supplied the world with melancholy and urgent observations on the state of the human heart, in songs such as “Suzanne,” “Bird on a Wire,” and “Hallelujah.” With equal parts gravitas and grace, Cohen teased out a startlingly inventive and singular language, depicting both an exalted spirituality and an earthly sexuality. His interweaving of the sacred and the profane, of mystery and accessibility, was such a compelling combination it became seared into memory.

Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything is the first exhibition entirely devoted to the imagination and legacy of the influential singer/songwriter, man of letters, and global icon from Montréal, Canada. The exhibition includes commissioned works by a range of international artists who have been inspired by Cohen’s style and recurring themes in his work, a video projection showcasing Cohen’s own drawings, and an innovative multimedia gallery where visitors can hear covers of Cohen’s songs by musicians such as Lou Doillon; Feist; Moby; and The National with Sufjan Stevens, Ragnar Kjartansson, and Richard Reed Parry, among others.

Participating Artists:

Kara Blake
Candice Breitz
Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller
Christophe Chassol
Daily Tous Les Jours
Tacita Dean
Kota Ezawa
George Fok
Ari Folman
Jon Rafman
Taryn Simon


Organized by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC), the exhibition is curated by John Zeppetelli, Director and Chief Curator at the MAC, and Victor Shiffman, Co-Curator. The New York presentation is coordinated for the Jewish Museum by Kelly Taxter, Barnett and Annalee Newman Curator of Contemporary Art, and Ruth Beesch, Senior Deputy Director, Programs & Strategic Initiatives. The exhibition is designed by New Affiliates LLC (Jaffer Kolb, Ivi Diamantopoulou). Acoustic consulting by ARUP. Exhibition graphics designed by Topos Graphics.
Following its New York showing, the exhibition will tour to Kunstforeningen GL STRAND and Nikolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen, Denmark (October 23, 2019 – April 13, 2020) and the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco (September 17, 2020 – January 24, 2021).
The presentation of Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything at the Jewish Museum is made possible by Audrey and Zygi Wilf, Jane and Mark Wilf, the Blavatnik Family Foundation, The Goldie and David Blanksteen Foundation, The TD Charitable Foundation, The Jaharis Family Foundation, Inc., Jane and Reuben Leibowitz, Nili Lotan, Rita and Charles Bronfman, Wendy Fisher, Goldman Sonnenfeldt Foundation, Brice and Helen Marden, Wexler Dermatology PC, and other generous donors.
Additional support is provided through The Skirball Fund for American Jewish Life Exhibitions, the Melva Bucksbaum Fund for Contemporary Art, and the Joan Rosenbaum Exhibition Endowment.
The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC), a state corporation funded by the Gouvernement du Québec, thanks Leonard Cohen for his support of this exhibition. Robert Kory, Adam Cohen, and Lorca Cohen provided invaluable assistance in the successful organization of this project.

The MAC also acknowledges the support of CBC/Radio-Canada and the National Film Board of Canada, as well as Sony Music and Sony ATV. For the exhibition’s presentation in New York, the MAC extends its thanks to the ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Foundation Azrieli.

Installation Views