Completion Date: 23 Jan 2019
Medium: Paint & ink on cardboard
Dimensions: 16 X 20 inches
Words from So Long Marianne, by Leonard Cohen, released in 1967.
The song was inspired by Marianne Jensen, born Marianne Ihlen, whom Cohen met on the Greek island of Hydrain 1960. Cohen said she was the most beautiful woman he had ever met. She had recently been left by her husband, the Norwegian writer Axel Jensen, leaving her and their six-month-old son alone on the island. The two hit it off, and Cohen ultimately took her from Hydra back to her home in Oslo, Norway. He later invited her and her son to live with him in Montreal, an offer which she accepted. The two lived together throughout the 1960s, commuting between New York, Montreal, and Hydra.
Cohen dedicated his third volume of poetry, Flowers for Hitler, to her, and she directly inspired many of his other songs and poems. A photo of her appears on the back cover of his second album, Songs from a Room.
Marianne Ihlen died in hospital in Oslo on 28 July 2016, aged 81. Cohen wrote to her shortly before her death, saying: “Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine… Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.” He died three months later, on November 7.