The Daily Pic: At NYU, the poet displays his shutter skills.
This photo of the writer Jack Kerouac was taken in New York in 1953 by his colleague and friend Allen Ginsberg, and it’s now in a show of Ginsberg photos that just opened at the Gray Art Gallery of NYU, where it’s on tour from the National Gallery of Art. The story around this and other early photos is that Ginsberg took them as snapshots and stowed them in a drawer until 1983, when he rediscovered, reprinted, published and sold them. What strikes me about the photos, however, is that a great many of them are far from casual shots: They show a deep acquaintance with all the stylish modern photography that preceded them. The Kerouac image, with its deliberate “error” of grafting a statue onto the poet’s head, would have been at home in the Bauhaus. This, you could say, was a specialty of Ginsberg and the other Beats: Taking the innovations of radical modernism and re-presenting them as impassioned outpourings direct from the soul. (This becomes obvious, and cloying, in the 1980s, when Ginsberg added faux-naif, nouveau-Beat scrawled captions at the bottom of his reprinted photos. His Kerouac portrait is shown here in its original, un-“improved” version.)
For a full visual survey of past Daily Pics visit BlakeGopnik.com/archive.
In his new book ‘The Age of Insight,’ the memory biologist Eric Kandel studies the art of Vienna, where he fled from the Nazis when he was 9. Jimmy So talks to the Nobel winner.
Start at the end. My advice, if you were to find yourself with a copy of Eric Kandel's new book, The Age of Insight—and I recommend that you do—is to first read the acknowledgments, on page 511. For at the end of this handsome chunk of text come the most personal memories: "I was born in Vienna on November 7, 1929 … Near our house were three museums that I never visited as a child, but whose subject matter later came to fascinate me and that now assumed a significant role in this book.”
The first is the Vienna Medical Museum celebrating, among others, the pioneering work of medical doctor Carl von Rokitansky. The second is the Sigmund Freud Museum, which used to be the great man’s apartment. The third is the Upper Belvedere Museum, which houses the world’s greatest collection of the paintings of Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, and Egon Schiele. So arrives, in the autumn of a long and decorated life, The Age of Insight, which really is one continuous and loving acknowledgment—of the debt that Kandel owes to the ghosts of great figures.
Kandel, the founding director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior at Columbia University, always has a lab coat that drapes over his body. He wears a bow tie, and holds court in a spectacular corner office overlooking the Hudson River. I walked in thinking these were signs of authority and tradition, of an outer protective layer. But I was mistaken. Kandel laughs so very easily, and when he does his mouth opens like a Muppet’s. He points to a small painting on his wall, a Bruegel-like scene of town folks punching one another. “That? That is Columbia academics,” and bursts into giggles. This is a man who by all expectations should be feared and looked up to. In 2000 he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for far-reaching discoveries about how memory—that mysterious, illusive dream—is created and stored. He is regarded as something of a modern-day Mnemosyne, the Greek goddess of remembrance, with ghosts that ought to be cursed.
Klimt’s 'Medicine' (Photo: Imagno, Austrian Archives / Getty Images)
In this clip from a video called "Wind Tunnel," New Yorker Neil Goldberg captures subway riders buffeted by the air from passing trains. It's a highlight from "Stories the City Tells Itself", his solo show at the Museum of the City of New York.
The Daily Beast: Andy Freeberg shoots the female guards at Russian museums.