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Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg
May 2 – September 16, 2010
West Building, Ground Floor, Inner Tier Galleries G32, G33, G34

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: 79 portrait photographs by Allen Ginsberg were shown in this exhibition, which explored the poet's photography from the 1950s when he first acquired a camera through his late images of the 1980s and 1990s. This was the first major exhibition devoted to Ginsberg's photographs. Included were his 1950s "drugstore" prints, snapshots Ginsberg took of himself, his portraits of Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, and later portraits of the Beats and other friends. Works on view came largely from a 2008–2009 gift to the National Gallery of Art from Gary S. Davis, supplemented by loans from private collections.

On May 23 exhibition curator Sarah Greenough presented the lecture "Seeing with the Eyes of the Angels: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg." A book signing of the catalog followed the lecture. On July 10 Allen Ginsberg's archivist and biographer Bill Morgan presented the lecture "The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg." A special film series, Beat Memories, was presented in June, including films focusing on musicians, artists, and protesters of the Beat and counterculture movements whom Ginsberg recorded in his photographs.

Organization: The exhibition was organized by the National Gallery of Art. Sarah Greenough, senior curator and head of the department of photographs, was curator.

Sponsor: The exhibition was made possible through the Trellis Fund with additional support provided by The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, Inc.

Attendance: 102,855 (138 days)

Catalog: Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg, by Sarah Greenough. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 2010.

Other Venues: New York University, Grey Art Gallery, New York, January 15–April 6, 2013
The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, May 23–September 9, 2013

Image: Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac wandering along East 7th Street after visiting Burroughs at our pad, passing statue of Congressman Samuel "Sunset" Cox, "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, gelatin silver print, Gift of Gary S. Davis Copyright (c) 2010 The Allen Ginsberg LLC. All rights reserved. 2009.108.2

Related Resources

Education Resource: Art since 1950

Audio and Video

"The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg" with director Jerry Aronson
Video, Released: February 1, 2011, (20:30 minutes)
The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg
Audio, Released: August 10, 2010, (58:10 minutes)
Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg: Part 2, Revisiting and Reprinting
Audio, Released: May 11, 2010, (13:45 minutes)
Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg: Part 1, The Early Photos
Audio, Released: May 4, 2010, (15:04 minutes)
Press Event: Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg
Audio, Released: April 27, 2010, (17:20 minutes)