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On view at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery: Beat Memories: The photographs of Allen Ginsberg
One of the most visionary writers of his generation,Allen Ginsberg (1926–1997) was also a photographer. He began photographing actively in New York City in 1953, having his film developed and printed at a drugstore near his apartment on the Lower East Side. After looking through the snapshots and perhaps giving a few to friends, he tossed them to the back of a drawer or the bottom of a closet. Ginsberg later said that these photographs were “meant more for a public in heaven than one here on earth—and that’s why they’re charming.” Between 1953 and 1963 he took numerous, often exuberant portraits of himself and his close-knit group of friends—such as Beat writers William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso, and Jack Kerouac. He viewed these prints as casual and unselfconscious “keepsakes” that recorded “certain moments in eternity,” and he did not initially exhibit them.
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