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Cover image for Beat culture and the New America, 1950-1965
Beat culture and the New America, 1950-1965

Publication Information:
New York : Whitney Museum of American Art in association with Flammarion, Paris, c1995.
Physical Description:
279 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 28 cm.
General Note:
"Published on the occasion of the exhibition ... at the Whitney Museum of American Art"--T.p. verso.
Prologue / Allen Ginsberg -- Beat culture: America revisioned / Heretical constellations: notes on California, 1946-61 / Libraries full of tears: the Beats and the law / Victors of catastrophe: Beat occlusions / Black Beats and Black issues / Beat goes on / Escape velocity: notes on Beat film / Movement toward the real: "Pull My Daisy" and the American independent film, 1950-65 / No exit: John Cassavetes' "Shadows" / Legacy of the Beats / Chronology
Chronicles the history, development and major personalities involved in the Beat movement looking at their contributions to literature, poetry, music, film, and art.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 700.1030973 PHI 1 1

On Order


Author Notes

Irwin Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of poet and teacher Louis Ginsberg. In 1948, he received a B.A. degree from Columbia University.

Ginsberg began writing poetry while still in school and first gained wide public recognition in 1956 with the long poem Howl. Howl has had a stormy history. When it was first recited at poetry readings, audiences cheered wildly. It was published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Books and printed in England. Before the printed copies could be distributed, however they were seized by U.S. custom officials as obscene. After a famous court case in which the poem was found not to be obscene, the work sold rapidly and Ginsberg's reputation was assured.

Regarded as the foremost port of the Beat generation (as group of rebellious writers who opposed conformity and sough intensity of experience), Ginsberg's work is concerned with many subjects of contemporary interest, including drugs, sexual confusion, the voluntary poverty of the artist and rebel, and rejection of society. He is a poet with a significant message, and his criticism of American society is part of a long tradition of American writers who have questioned their country's values.

Ginsberg received numerous honors, including a Woodbury Poetry Prize, a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, and a National Book Award for poetry. Ginsberg was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1995 for his book Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems 1986-1992. Ever the Bohemian, he had numerous occupations throughout his lifetime including dishwasher, porter, book reviewer, and spot welder. He died in April 1997 of complications due to liver cancer.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Containing ten essays and over 250 illustrations, this impressive catalog of the controversial show at the Whitney Museum (Nov. 9, 1995-Feb. 4, 1996), put together by the curator, documents the pervasive influence of the Beat Generation on American art and culture. The exhibit includes manuscripts, photographs, and artwork by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso, as well as work by several West Coast artists, including Bruce Conner, Jay DeFeo, and Robert Lavigne. Essay topics, stressing shared artistic and cultural concerns, range from African American influences on the Beat Generation to the aesthetics of Beat filmmaking. A detailed chronology rounds out the book. Highly recommended for contemporary art and literature collections.‘William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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