Allen Ginsberg’s Photographs On View at the Contemporary Jewish Museum


For all its contributions to literature, the Beat generation of artists is above all known for its lifestyle–the addled, erotic, for-the-moment mania that blasted the foundations of conservative 1950s America and paved the way for full-fledged counterculture movements in cities like San Francisco and New York.

This subterranean culture is well documented in works like Jack Kerouac’s On the Road or Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.” However, Beat Memories, now at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, would seem to offer a rarer pleasure: Visual access to the beat world, in the form of several dozen photographs taken by Allen Ginsberg.

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Image: Allen Ginsberg, Myself seen by William Burroughs, Kodak Retina new-bought 2’d hand from Bowery hock-shop…, 1953. Gelatin silver print, printed 1984–1997, 11 ¼ x 17 ¼ in. National Gallery of Art, Gift of Gary S. Davis. Copyright © 1953, 2013 Allen Ginsberg LLC. Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg. On view May 23–September 8, 2012. Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

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