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paris.art.beathotelbychapmanAn extensive archive of images by the British photographer Harold Chapman (the single largest collection of Chapman material in private hands) is to be offered for auction at Bonhams, London. The collection comprises 108 photographs of Paris and the Beat Hotel taken between the late 1950s and early 1960s. Kent-born Chapman moved from London to Paris and into the infamous Beat Hotel in the mid 1950s. Located at 9 rue Gît-le-Coeur in 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. Chapman, whose career started with newspapers and magazines in the UK, chronicled every movement of the hotel’s residents in Paris. He recorded the extraordinary people, places and pastimes of the Beat generation, always aiming to capture the scene as it actually happened, without staging or intervention. Acquired directly from the photographer by the present owner, who also lived at the Beat Hotel, the archive is accompanied by a fascinating and unique collection of Chapman’s own anecdotes and reflections on each photograph. Approximately half of the images are reproduced in Harold Chapman’s The Beat Hotel (Gris Banal, 1984), a signed copy of which will also be sold with the archive.

And here’s a fascinating excerpt from a forthcoming documentary about the Beat Hotel, focusing on Chapman and his relationship with the Beats, and due for release by Documentary Arts in 2011.

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