Originally published 01/18/2013
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) was a great poet but not a great photographer. So while “Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg” at the Grey Art Gallery is an interesting exhibition, it is in certain ways disappointing. The best you can say about the pictures Ginsberg took during two periods in which he dabbled in the medium — the ’50s and early ’60s and the ’80s and ’90s — is that they are the works of a competent amateur. The bigger disappointment, however, is that much of the history that Ginsberg lived through and did so much to alter as a countercultural activist is missing.The exhibition was organized by Sarah Greenough, senior curator of photography at the National Gallery of Art, where it had its debut in 2010.