The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg.
By Sarah Greenough.
Prestel, Lakewood, 2010. 144 pp., 105 illustrations, 70 tritone 30 duotone, 5 in color, 9½x11".
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more than historical documents, his photographs and the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.
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