From the NYT, a story by John Leland about Burt Glinn who shot the Beats in New York’s jazz clubs, coffee shops, Village bars and on the street.
Glinn’s work is as in the moment as it gets and lovely. Looking at how the greats shot, always informs my photography; and, especially in the street genre.
New York was a smaller city then, and writers and jazz musicians and painters and fresh arrivals from anywhere all closed the night in the same Village bars or Times Square hamburger joints. A single table at the Five Spot jazz club, as captured in a well-known shot by Glinn, might seat the painters Helen Frankenthaler and Larry Rivers, the sculptors David Smith and Anita Huffington and the poets Kenneth Koch and Frank O’Hara.
While the magazines of the time, wanted the black and whites, Glinn also shot in color and his widow has collected them into a new book out this fall called The Beat Scene ($27 on Amazon).
As Leland notes, this trove of images is, “Warmer, less distant, more casual, less go-cat-go, more open to visitors.”
What’s the most charming thing about the photos? Notice that no one has photos in their hands. It looks like something important is going on. And there was, it was a time of wonderful art, literature, poetry, and works that became classics.
Street photography is where I feel most at home. And, do wish it was more prominent on Instagram where it seems the trending photos are of HDR’d landscapes taken with Sony cameras.
Another great book about that time in NYC is Beat Scene.
The Beats worked very hard at media for a mainstream they shunned. Now it seems it’s all about being in the mainstream.
It’s not about the Beats, but an absolute fav photo taken by Glinn is of the Seattle Tubing Society in full float mode, 1953.