Categories: Reviews

Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg

“Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg”
at the Grey Art Gallery New York University

January 15 – April 6, 2013, New York, NY

“Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg” at the Grey Art Gallery New York University are familiar to those acquainted with the Beats, iconic photos that have been seen by the world. However, to view them closely and inscribed in Ginsberg’s open, curious hand makes them personal: welcome to the Beat family photo album. The eighty or so framed black-and-white photos include Louis and Edith Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Carl Solomon, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Peter Orlovsky, Herbert E. Huncke, Gregory Corso, Bob Dylan, Wavy Gravy, and shopping cart street prophet. Oh, yes, and Madonna, Allen was on the world stage.

The descriptions are a delight: “Neal Cassady with cigarette young & vigorous age 29 with salesman.” About Jack Kerouac: “He’s making a Dostoyevsky mad-face or Russian basso be-bop om…” “We used to wander dockside under Manhattan’s bridges & thru truck parking lots along East River singing rawbone blues, Leadbelly’s “Black Girl” or Eli, Eli…” And there’s the famous photo with Ferlinghetti and Beats in front of City Lights, and Neal with his “love of that year…” the year is 1955. The photos span the smiling, dark-haired young Allen on the Lower East Side, the years of travel from Tangier to the Sea of Japan to Moscow, and the elder Ginsberg. There are many happy photos of youth, but the saddest one is Jack’s last visit to 704 East Fifth Street.

The exhibit features four display cases of original letters, manuscript pages, and first-edition books.
Show runs from January 15 – April 6, 2013
www.nyu.edu/greyart

GK Stritch

GK Stritch is a contributor to Beatdom and the author of CBGB Was My High School. The book is available at the St. Mark's Bookshop, New York City, and amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

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  • I'm pretty sure I caught this amazing exhibition some years back twinned with a Chuck Close exhibition in D.C. At least get the book - it's an absolute candid treasure trove of Beatnik history.

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