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Beat Memories
Ginsberg on the roof of his Seventh Street apartment in 1953

Allen Ginsberg is known for a lot of things--his poetry, his progressive thinking, his advocacy. But photography? Now, thanks to the retrospective ?Beat Memories? at NYU?s Grey Art Gallery, this legacy has a new amendment.

In the early ?50s, while living in the East Village, Ginsberg says he was just ?fooling around? with his friends, taking snapshots with a used 35mm camera he found at a Bowery pawnshop. But those friends weren?t just anyone. They were Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady and Gregory Corso--a group now widely recognized as the leaders of the beat generation.

We stopped by the free exhibit on opening night last week and were struck by the poignancy of those pre-fame moments (Burroughs lying in bed during the brief time they were lovers or Kerouac making a silly face outside Tompkins Square Park). But just as powerful are his later shots of the same men in their final years after decades of alcohol and drug abuse.

After a wave of Hollywood movies glamorizing the guys, it?s refreshing to see them in an honest light.

Through April 6; Grey Art Gallery at NYU, 100 Washington Sq. E.; 212-998-6780 or nyu.edu/greyart

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