This is the first major San Francisco exhibition of Ginsberg's photos. How is that even possible? And what’s new to learn about the Beats at this point, anyway?
Colleen Stockmann: The photos are a little-known part of Ginsberg's legacy. There were some small exhibits in the 80s, but then they were largely forgotten. What was new to me was those long-term and intimate relationships that he had. The Beat Generation was really not this fleeting moment. There are pictures of Gregory Corso and William Burroughs that are haunting, seeing how time and that lifestyle affected these people. Seeing Jack Kerouac at 53 and then at 64 is night and day. And there are people in here you wouldn’t have thought that Ginsberg knew, pictures of Bob Dylan and Francesco Clemente. At capturing momentary thoughts, Ginsberg is excellent. As a formal photographer he's not, but that was never the point. There's enough compelling subject matter that they touch you in some way.
Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg, At the Contemporary Jewish Museum May 23-September 8.