Allen Ginsberg was more than just one of the great poets of the beat movement. The chronicler of a generation was quite a photographer as well, as a new exhibit proves.
In 2006, when the MacArthur Foundation bestowed its “Genius” award on John Zorn, the panel of judges only underscored what many fans already knew. Zorn’s extensive output as a composer of avant-garde music, a first-rate saxophone player, and a leader of a group of downtown New York musicians, has been vastly important and influential.
As the ringleader of the ragtag group of professional hedonists, acid-eating Buddhists, and scribbling loners known as the Beats, Allen Ginsberg played many roles. Though Ginsberg is best known as a progenitor of 1950s and ’60s counterculture, when he whipped bookstore readings into frenzies with “Howl” and negotiated with the Hell’s Angels to ensure the safety of anti-war rallies, he was also one of its best chroniclers, both through his biography-riddled poetry and, less famously, through his photography.