Back to the Beat Generation: Photography by Allen Ginsberg

A young Ginsberg in 1953.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.

A 1950s shot of Neal Cassady with a girlfriend in San Francisco.

A 1950s shot of Neal Cassady with a girlfriend in San Francisco.

A 1956 image of the writer Gregory Corso in Paris.

A 1956 image of the writer Gregory Corso in Paris.

A dissolute Kerouac in 1964.

A dissolute Kerouac in 1964.

Burroughs in 1953.

Burroughs in 1953.

Burroughs, left, making a point as Jack Kerouac listens intently at Ginsberg’s East Seventh Street apartment in 1953.

Burroughs, left, making a point as Jack Kerouac listens intently at Ginsberg’s East Seventh Street apartment in 1953.

From left, Bob Donlin, Neal Cassady, Ginsberg, Robert LaVigne and Lawrence Ferlinghetti in front of City Lights Books in San Francisco in 1956.

From left, Bob Donlin, Neal Cassady, Ginsberg, Robert LaVigne and Lawrence Ferlinghetti in front of City Lights Books in San Francisco in 1956.

Ginsberg’s paternal grandmother, Rebecca Ginsberg, in 1953.

Ginsberg’s paternal grandmother, Rebecca Ginsberg, in 1953.

The painter Larry Rivers in 1985.

The painter Larry Rivers in 1985.

The poker-faced Burroughs standing next to a stone chimera in the Egyptian wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1953.

The poker-faced Burroughs standing next to a stone chimera in the Egyptian wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1953.

The view from Ginsberg’s kitchen window, taken in 1984.

The view from Ginsberg’s kitchen window, taken in 1984.

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2 comments
  1. ScrapAndSalvage said:

    i love this post for so many reasons, but mostly because of kerouac 🙂

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