Peter Orlovsky at the Black Cat Café.



Robert LaVigne (1928–2014).


Peter Orlovsky at the Black Cat Café.




Ink on paper, 12 x 8 in.

Artist and set designer Robert LaVigne created portraits of many luminaries in the San Francisco bohemian scene. This drawing of Peter Orlovsky (1933–2010), poet and longtime partner of Allen Ginsberg, helps to document the period just prior to Howl and On the Road. The Beat writers were still unknown outside of their immediate circle, and it captures the calm before the launch of the Beats into the public arena the following year. This portrait was created at the Black Cat Café in San Francisco, a watering hole for artists, writers, actors, musicians, gays and rebels from the 1940s until it closed in 1963.

During my early years of collecting, I focused on books, manuscripts and correspondence relating to the Beats. This was the first work on paper added to my collection, and it has expanded my interest and appreciation for a broader approach to my collecting.


Donald Heneghan