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Larry Keenan


In 1965, California College of Arts and Crafts student, Larry Keenan was asked by his teacher, poet and playwright, Michael McClure if he would like to photograph a group of his friends. Asking McClure whom his friends were Keenan was amazed when he listed names that included Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Bruce Conner, Neal Cassady and Ken Kesey. Keenan had studied the works of these groundbreaking poets, writers and artists and recognized the significance of this opportunity.

Twenty-one years old, Keenan spent over a year photographing the Beats in their homes and with their family and friends. He began documenting the last days of the Beat Generation with a borrowed 35mm camera using mostly Tri-X film push processed with available light and no tripod. He cleverly made an enlarger from an old slide projector to print his work.

During this time, Larry was living at home and his parents (who didn't share his respect for the Beats) presented certain obstacles for him, but he continued to persevere. For instance, as he was leaving the house to photograph the McClure, Dylan and Ginsberg, North Beach image for Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde album cover, his parents determined he could only borrow the family car to drive to San Francisco after he mowed the lawn of their stately Alameda home. Keenan says, "The entire time I was mowing the lawn, with the loud power mower and gas smell, I was trying to center myself knowing I was about to document some very important events." On this day he shot The Last Gathering of Beat Poets and Artists at City Lights. Ironically, these two photographs are some of Keenan's most noted Beat images.

A former high school classmate of Larry's, Jim Morrison of The Doors, fostered his natural instinct of being able to distinguish talent at an early age. He was very aware of his good fortune being able to photograph the Beats under the auspices of McClure and Ginsberg. Keenan's innate understanding of the historical value of the images has provided the general public not only with a unique chronology and reportage of this era, but also with a timeless rendering of the spirit of the Beat poets and artists. Much of this work, shown at the Whitney Museum in New York, Walker Art Center of Minneapolis and the M.H. de Young Museum in San Francisco, in the exhibit Beat Culture and the New America: 1950-1965 and in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery show Rebels: Beat Artists and Poets, are the icon images that represent these exhibitions.

Larry Keenan is a recipient of the prized Phelan Award for his fine art photography. He is an award winning advertising and corporate photographer who specializes in combining the traditional medium of photography with the contemporary digital platform. Larry's unique vision and style are his trademark that are clearly illustrated in his enduring fine art and commercial work of today.

Beat Exhibitions & Publications

Beat Exhibitions:

1966    The Poets of San Francisco, Piedmont Gallery, Oakland, CA
1967    Monterey Pop Festival, invitational show, Monterey, CA
1974    Beat Poets, invitational exhibition, de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA
1975    San Francisco Renaissance: The Beats 1950-60, Gotham Book Mart Gallery, New York, NY
1975    Poets of the Cities, San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA
1975    Portrait of America, competition and a USA Bicentennial tour by the Smithsonian
1982    Kerouaciana, 25 Years On The Road, Naropa Institute, Boulder Center for the Visual Arts
1994    BEAT ART-visual works by and about the Beat Generation, New York University, NY
1994    Beat Generation Event, Parco Co., Ltd, Tokyo, Japan
1995    Beat Culture and the New America: 1950-1965, Whitney Museum of American Art, NY
1996    Beat Culture and the New America: 1950-1965, Whitney's loan to Walker Art Center, MN
1996    Beat Culture and the New America: 1950-1965, Whitney's loan to de Young Museum, SF
1996    REBELS: Beat Artists and Poets of the 1950s, The National Portrait Gallery, Wash., DC
1996    CCAC: Past, Present, and Future, 90th Anniversary Festival, work of distinguished alumni
1996    Counter Culture/Haight-Ashbury: 1964-1968, solo show, Great Modern Pictures, NY
1997    Angelheaded Hipsters, solo exhibition, Caffe Centro, San Francisco
1997    Bob Dylan -The 1998 International Conference, at Stanford University, 2 man exhibit, CA
1997    Bad Company, Beat & Counter-Culture exhibit, SkyDeck Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1999    Angelheaded Hipsters, solo exhibit, Beyond Baroque Gallery, Venice, CA


City Lights Journal #3, City Lights Books, cover photograph
A Kind of Beatness, 1975, Mark Green, CITY Magazine, San Francisco
The Beat Book, Arthur and Glee Knight, 1974, The Unspeakable Visions of the Individual
The Beat Diary, Arthur and Kit Knight, 1977, The Unspeakable Visions of the Individual
The Beat Journey, Arthur and Kit Knight 1978, vol. 8, The Unspeakable Visions of the Individual
Genesis Angels, Aram Saroyan, William Morrow & Co.
Beat Generation, Yves Pellec, Editions Subervie, France
Neal Cassady, Forsta Tredjedelen, BakhÂll Bolker, Sweden
The Unspeakable Visions of the Individual, vol. 10, Arthur and Kit Knight
September Blackberries, Michael McClure, New Directions Books
Jaguar Skies, Michael McClure, New Directions Books
Antechamber & Other Poems, Michael McClure, New Directions Books
Fragments of Perseus, Michael McClure, New Directions Books
Michael McClure, Selected Poems, by Michael McClure, New Directions Books
Scratching the Beat Surface, Michael McClure, North Point Press/Penguin
Bob Dylan Biograph, CBS Records, photograph in the booklet with album
When San Francisco was Cool, 1991, Herbert Gold, Image Magazine
The Holy Goof , a biography of Neal Cassady, William Plummer, Prentice Hall
Dharma Lion, A Biography of Allen Ginsberg, Michael Schumacher, St. Martin's Press
Birth of the Beat Generation, Steven Watson, Pantheon Books
Scratching the Beat Surface, Michael McClure, North Point Press
Sista Dagen Ipoetskolan, _ke Hˆgman, Aftonbladet/Kulture, Sweden
The Beat Generation, Rhino Word Beat, Book inside 3 CD set, Rhino Records
On the Road Again, October 1995, Vogue Magazine
The Beat Goes On, November 1995, Interview Magazine
Beat Culture and the New America: 1950-1965, Whitney Museum of American Art, show catalog
REBELS: Beat Artists and Poets of the 1950s, The National Portrait Gallery, show catalog, web site
Beat Culture, by Bonita Y. Lei, Hsiung-Shih Art Monthly magazine, Taiwan
Beatnik to digital, photographer spans eras, Mike Fitelson, The Montclarion
Long Live the BEATS, by Chiori Santiago, San Jose Mercury News
Anni Beati, Emanuele Bevilacqua, Il Venerdi di Repubblica magazine, Italy
Beat Culture and the New America, by Kevin Ring, Beat Scene magazine, England
Oakland Photographer Takes Photo Exhibit of Beat Poets On the Road, by Les Cowan, MPN
I Want To Take You Higher, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Chronicle Books
Hey Lew, homage to Lew Welch, by Magda Cregg, Bolinas
Jack Kerouac Angelheaded Hipster, Steve Turner, Bloomsfield Publishing, England
Die letzten tage der Beats, by Dirk Gˆrtler, Chelsea Hotel Magazine, Germany
Witnessing the Beats: The Last 5 Minutes, by Joan Dahlgren, North Beach NOW
ICONS, Beat Culture and the New America: 1950-1965, San Francisco Examiner Magazine
Reclaiming San Francisco, by Nancy Peters, City Lights Books
The BEAT Experience, Red Hot Organization, Voyager CD-ROM
Women of the Beat Generation, Brenda Knight, Conari Press
A Conversation with Larry Keenan & Dale Smith, by Stephen Scobie, On the Tracks magazine
Scholars dissect Dylan's work, by Karyn Hunt, San Diego Union Tribune
Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, Larry Keenan, an interview Parts 1 & 2, Beat Scene magazine, UK
Beat Writers at Work, by The Paris Review, Random House
Bob Dylan Live, The Royal Albert Hall Concert 1966, Columbia CD set/booklet
Huge Dreams, by Michael McClure, Penguin/Viking
Rain Mirror, by Michael McClure, New Directions Books
The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats, by Holly George-Warren, Hyperion Books
The American Century: Art and Culture 1900-2000, Whitney Museum of American Art/Norton
1999 Sundance Film Festival, program photograph for The Source
Postcards from the Underground, Larry Keenan, City Lights Publishing
Screaming with Joy: The Life of Allen Ginsberg, Graham Caveney, Bloomsbury Publishers, UK
Elements of Style, History Books, by Michael Kaplan, GQ Magazine, Oct. 1999
Images of the Underground, by Peter Hegarty, Alameda Journal and The Montclarion newspapers
Bohemia Lost, by Dana Giola, San Francisco Magazine
Les AnnÈes Pop, exhibition catalog, Centre Georges Pompidou, France
Down the Highway, by Howard Sounes, Transworld Publishers (Random House), UK


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