Though not a great photographer in any sense of the word, Allen Ginsberg’s collection of photographs gleaned from his illustrious past give us a tiny glimpse into the world of counterculture in its halcyon days. The photos span periods of his life during the 50’s and 60’s, as well as his later years in the 80’s and 90’s. The only thing missing from this collection are the moments in history that Ginsberg witnessed and those which led him to become the great countercultural activist that achieved global recognition. It’s a little bit of a let down, but seeing shots of great writers and revolutionaries such as Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, and muse Neal Cassady in mundane settings isn’t a total loss. Though their writings prove more incendiary than their documented lifestyles, these photographs take us back to an era where literature was being overhauled for a new, free-thinking generation, and the bohemian cultural revolution made it’s mark. Too bad Ginsberg didn’t capture some of the more poignant psychedelic moments, as they made their way across America and back in search of quantifying and transcending levels of consciousness. I would love to see the rest of them – the whole collection was exhibited primarily at the National Gallery of Art in 2010 entitled “Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg”.
To buy a copy of his book of photography, visit Amazon.
To see more photos by Ginsberg, check out the Allen Ginsberg Project.