In the early 1980s, American poet Allen Ginsberg rediscovered negatives and drugstore prints he had taken over a period of 40 years and began to systematically reprint his old pictures and make new ones.
As Ginsberg inscribed the snapshots directly onto the photographic paper beneath the image, the camera gradually replaced his notebooks as a way of record keeping. Louise Nevelson, New York, November 9, 1986 invites a viewing experience that oscillates between reading and looking and produces the kind of self-conscious observation Ginsberg aimed to capture and foment through his poetry or, as he famously said, “to notice what we notice.” Ginsberg’s understanding of life as sacramental informed his vision of photography as a way to preserve a fleeting moment. This photograph, taken at the first—and last—time Ginsberg met the artist and captioned sometime after her death in 1988, is a poignant and powerful portrait that both records and memorializes their meeting.
Allen Ginsberg (American, 1926-1997)
Louise Nevelson, New York, November 9, 1986, 1986
Gelatin silver print
Charles Olney Fund, 2010.8