I was given the book Allen Ginsberg: Photographs a couple years back and have continually returned to it for the kind of awe-inspiring prolific inspiration his poems have always provided me with. Though a lot of critics complain that his dabble into photography created a couple images that were amateur at best, I believe they are looking at it all wrong. You can’t judge his works on the same scale of composition and clarity that you would use to confront other photographers from his generation. Though they capture the same urgency and lack of control as Robert Frank’s distinct style, for me when I look at Ginsberg’s work, I see a moment in time.. the energy of his friends, an insider glimpse of the way he sees, what inspired him daily to tote around a notebook and fill it with beautiful prose full of painfully honest observations. And if you don’t see that, when looking at his work well.. It’s all in the captions.
Needless to say, I am looking forward to finally seeing this body of work in person at the exhibition Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg which is up at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery until April.
Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac wandering along East 7th street after visiting Burroughs at our pad, passing statue of Congressman Samuel “Sunset” Cot, “The Letter – Carrier’s Friend” in Tompkins Square toward corner of Avenue A, Lower East Side; he’s making a Dostoyevsky mad-face or Russian basso be-bop Om, first walking around the neighborhood, then involved with The Subterraneans, pencils & notebook in wool shirt-pockets, Fall 1953, Manhattan.“ 1953
Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac the last time he visited my apartment 704 east 5th street,N.Y.C., he looked by then like his late father, red-faced corpulent w.c. Fields shuddering with mortal horror, grimacing on O.M.T.’d brought back from visiting Timothy Leary of Hillbrook psychedelic, Fall 1964
Allen Ginsberg, I sat for decades at morning breakfast tea looking out my kitchen window, one day recognized my own world the familiar background, a giant wet brick-walled undersea Atlantis garden, waving ailanthus (“stinkweed”) “Trees of Heaven,” with chimney pots along Avenue A topped by Stuyvesant Town apartments’ upper floors two blocks distant on 14th Street, I focus’d on the raindrops along the clothesline. “Things are symbols of themselves,” said Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. New York City August 18, 1984
Fortunately art is a community effort- a small but select community living in a spiritualized world endeavoring to interpret the wars and the solitudes of the flesh. - Allen Ginsberg