Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Photography Exhibition: The National Gallery of Art - Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg

Jack Kerouac by Allen GinsbergThe National Gallery of Art has an extensive collection of photographic images, however, most are not regularly on display. This exhibition, Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg, takes 79 photographs from Allen Ginsberg’s collection snapshots and professional portraits. It will be treat to see them.

This exhibition will run through September 6, 2010

In the first scholarly exhibition of American poet Allen Ginsberg's photographs, all facets of his work in photography will be explored. Some 79 works on display will range from the 1950s "drugstore" prints to his now celebrated portraits of Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, snapshots of Ginsberg himself taken just before he achieved literary fame, and his later portraits of the Beats and other friends made in the 1980s and 1990s. Ginsberg (1926–1997) started taking photographs in 1953 when he purchased a small, secondhand Kodak camera. For the next decade he captured numerous intimate shots of himself as well as his friends and lovers. He abandoned photography in 1963 but returned to it in the early 1980s. Encouraged by photographers Berenice Abbott and Robert Frank, he reprinted much of his early work and began making new portraits, adding sometimes extensive inscriptions. Although Ginsberg's photographs form a compelling portrait of the Beat and counterculture generation from the 1950s to the 1990s, his pictures are far more than mere historical documents. The same ideas that inform his poetry—an intense observation of the world, a deep appreciation of the beauty of the vernacular, a celebration of the sacredness of the present, and a faith in intuitive expression—also permeate his photography.
I think this is a “not to miss” exhibition. I know I’ll be visiting the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC prior to Labor Day to visit this exhibition.

As I travel, I love seeing the work of other photographers as I hope you do. If you know of a new photographic exhibition which you think the Blog should publicize, please contact me.

1 comment:

Irv from San Francisco said...

Thank you so much for alerting me to this exhibition.

I remember Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs well. I used to go to some of their readings. Does this ever bring back memories.

I'm going to be in Washington this summer and won't miss the exhibition.

Thanks for a great blog. I learn a lot from you each week.

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