A Time of Youth

San Francisco, 1966–1967

A Time of Youth

Book Pages: 168 Illustrations: 126 color illustrations Published: January 2021

Author: William Gedney

Editor: Lisa McCarty

Contributor: Philip Gefter

American Studies, Art and Visual Culture > Photography, General Interest

A year before 1967's famed summer of love, documentary photographer William Gedney set out for San Francisco on a Guggenheim Fellowship to record “aspects of our culture which I believe significant and which I hope will become, in time, part of the record of American history.” A Time of Youth brings together 89 of the more than 2000 photographs Gedney took in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood between October, 1966 and January, 1967. In these photographs Gedney documents the restless and intertwined lives of the disenchanted youth who flocked to what became the epicenter of 1960s counterculture. Gedney lived among these young men and women in their communal homes, where he captured the intimate and varied contours of everyday life: solitude and companionship, joyous celebration and somber quiet, cramped rooms and spacious parks, recreation and contemplation. In these images Gedney presents a portrait of a San Francisco counterculture that complicates popular depictions of late 1960's youth as carefree flower children. The book also includes facsimiles of hand-written descriptions of the scenes Gedney photographed, his thoughts on organizing the book, and other ephemera.


“William Gedney was a great photographer and the work he made in San Francisco is among his best. It amounts to a kind of visual archaeology whereby the documentary record is unearthed from the psychedelic aesthetic and glow in which it has been preserved. Here is the shuffle and trudge of life, the grey dawn which precedes the cosmic awakening of the summer of love. And yet: ‘Bliss was it in that dawn. . .’” — Geoff Dyer


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William Gedney (1932–1989) was an American documentary photographer whose work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; the Pratt Institute; and CSMVS, Mumbai; among other museums. He also designed and created mock-ups of seven books of his photography. A Time of Youth is the first of these to be published.

Philip Gefter is a photography critic and author of George Dureau: The Photographs, Wagstaff: Before and After Mapplethorpe, and Photography After Frank.

Lisa McCarty is Assistant Professor of Photography at Southern Methodist University, author of Transcendental Concord, and coauthor of William Gedney: Only the Lonely 1955–1984.

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Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1055-5