This intimate family album is a revealing photographic look at the Beat Generation as chronicled by the movement s great poet Allen Ginsberg. Allen Ginsberg began photographing in the late 1940s when he purchased a small, second-hand Kodak camera. For the next fifteen years he took photographs of himself, his friends, and lovers, including the writers and poets Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, and Gregory Corso as well as Beat personality Neal Cassady. He abandoned photography in 1963 and took it up again in the 1980s, when he was encouraged by photographers Berenice Abbott and Robert Frank to reprint his earlier work and make new portraits; these included more images of longtime friends as well other acquaintances such as painters Larry Rivers and Francesco Clemente and musician Bob Dylan. Ginsberg's photographs form a compelling portrait of the Beat and counterculture generation from the 1950s to the 1990s. Far more than historical documents, his photographs and the extensive inscriptions he added to them years later preserve what he referred to as 'the sacredness of the moment, ' the often joyous communion of friends and the poignancy of looking back to intensely felt times. More than seventy prints are brilliantly reproduced in this book and accompanied by Sarah Greenough's essay on Ginsberg's photography in relation to his poetry and other photographers of the time, a chronology of his photographic activity, and selections from interviews with Ginsberg between 1958 and 1996
About the Author
Sarah Greenough is the chief curator and head of the department of photographs at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1926, a son of Naomi and lyric poet Louis Ginsberg. As a student at Columbia College in the 1940s, he began a close friendship with William Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac, and he later became associated with the Beat movement and the San Francisco Renaissance in the 1950s. After jobs as a laborer, sailor, and market researcher, Ginsberg published his first volume of poetry, Howl and Other Poems, in 1956. "Howl" defeated censorship trials to become one of the most widely read poems of the century, translated into more than twenty-two languages, from Macedonian to Chinese, a model for younger generations of poets from West to East.
Ginsberg was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, was awarded the medal of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French minister of culture, was a winner of the National Book Award (for The Fall of America), and was a cofounder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute, the first accredited Buddhist college in the Western world. He died in New York City in 1997.