Allen Ginsberg at the U of T Art Centre

If you’re a book worm like me, chances are, you’re familiar with Allen Ginsberg and the Beat Generation. What you may not know, is that he was also an avid photographer.

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ABOVE: Allen Ginsberg, Sandro Chia with a gun, 1985, black and white silver gelatin print with ink, 14 x 11 inches, University of Toronto Collection, Toronto

BELOW: Allen Ginsberg, Francesco Clemente: variation 2 (behind desk at book), 1984, black and white silver gelatin print with ink, 14 x 11 inches, University of Toronto Collection, Toronto

This past weekend I was walking through the University of Toronto campus when I thought: “Hey! This place probably has an art gallery.” Seconds later, my phone confirmed this to be true.

After wandering around campus for another ten minutes, I finally came to the entrance of the U of T Art Centre. When I opened the door to the big reveal…the place was…empty – not a single work of art on any of the walls. I approached the front desk, made a joke about minimalism, and was told by an unamused attendant that there was an Allen Ginsberg exhibition in the back. I walked through another set of doors, and sure enough, there it was.

I’m really glad I stumbled upon this exhibition; it was a pleasant surprise. If you’re a fan of Ginsberg’s work, or even remotely interested in the life and times of the Beat Generation, you’ll be pleasantly surprised too. While many of the photo’s are decidedly amateurish, the subject matter is compelling, and the sheer breadth of this show is impressive.

If that weren’t enough, Ginsberg not only took photo’s of his friends and colleagues, he annotated each shot with explanatory notes – so cool!

We Are Continually Exposed to the Flashbulb of Death: Photograph’s of Allen Ginsberg (1953-1996) runs until December 6 at the U of T Art Centre. If you can find the time to see it, you should.

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