Bonhams' photography sale gives a fresh look at the Beat Generation

The single largest collection of images by the British photographer Harold Chapman is to be offered for sale at Bonhams by private treaty, this month.

The collection features 108 photographs of Paris and the Beat Hotel taken between the late 1950s and early 1960s, a selection of which will be on show at Bonhams, New Bond Street from now until 11 January 2011.

Chapman's subjects included William Burroughs (left)
and Allen Ginsberg (right)

Acquired directly from the photographer by the present owner (another inhabitant of the Beat Hotel), the archive also features a unique collection of Chapman's own anecdotes and reflections on each photograph. Half  the images are reproduced in Harold Chapman's 1984 book 'The Beat Hotel', a signed copy of which will also be sold with the archive.

Chapman moved from London to Paris and into the infamous Beat Hotel in the mid 1950s. Located at 9 rue Gît-le-Coeurin the city's Latin Quarter, the Beat Hotel was a magnet for artists, writers and poets.

Chapman's fellow lodgers included William Burroughs, Gregory Corso and Allen Ginsberg, who had recently fled obscenity trials in the US after the publication of his poem, Howl. This creative hub was presided over by the hotel's formidable owner, Madame Rachou.

A party at the Beat Hotel as captured by Chapman

Nicknamed the "invisible photographer" by Allen Ginsberg for his ability to shoot subjects and scenes unobserved, Chapman recorded the extraordinary people, places and pastimes of the Beat generation and captured the scene as it actually happened, without staging or intervention.

As a result of this unrivalled access and captivation of the Beat lifestyle, Chapman's works have been exhibited world-wide.

The exhibition gives a fascinating insight into some of the most creative forces of the Beat Generation, and offers art collectors the chance to pick up work by one of the most iconic photographers of his generation.


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