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Just Kidsby Patti Smith
In her memoir Just Kids, Smith chronicles her lifelong friendship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe. A gifted wordsmith, she's vividly observant and sometimes painfully self-aware, with a voice possessed not only of yearning but also of experience.
"It's a fable and a tragedy, about a boy from Long Island and a girl from New Jersey who fell in love and lived for art and made it big without giving in or selling out. They never quit on each other, not after nature pulled them apart and not after a plague hit the city and took Mapplethorpe in 1989.
'Patti, did art get us?' Mapplethorpe asked, dying of AIDS.
She told him she didn't know, didn't want to think about it. 'Only a fool would regret being had by art; or a saint,' she writes." Jeff Baker, The Oregonian (read the entire Oregonian review)
Synopses & Reviews
It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.
Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max's Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous — the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years.
Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists' ascent, a prelude to fame.
"In 1967, 21-year-old singer-songwriter Smith, determined to make art her life and dissatisfied with the lack of opportunities in Philadelphia to live this life, left her family behind for a new life in Brooklyn. When she discovered that the friends with whom she was to have lived had moved, she soon found herself homeless, jobless, and hungry. Through a series of events, she met a young man named Robert Mapplethorpe who changed her life — and in her typically lyrical and poignant manner Smith describes the start of a romance and lifelong friendship with this man: It was the summer Coltrane died. Flower children raised their arms... and Jimi Hendrix set his guitar in flames in Monterey. It was the summer of "Elvira Madigan", and the summer of love.... This beautifully crafted love letter to her friend (who died in 1989) functions as a memento mori of a relationship fueled by a passion for art and writing. Smith transports readers to what seemed like halcyon days for art and artists in New York as she shares tales of the denizens of Max's Kansas City, the Hotel Chelsea, Scribner's, Brentano's, and Strand bookstores. In the lobby of the Chelsea, where she and Mapplethorpe lived for many years, she got to know William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Johnny Winter. Most affecting in this tender and tough memoir, however, is her deep love for Mapplethorpe and her abiding belief in his genius. Smith's elegant eulogy helps to explain the chaos and the creativity so embedded in that earlier time and in Mapplethorpe's life and work."(Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.)
"Riveting and exquisitely crafted." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work — from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.
Smith's evocative, honest, and moving coming-of-age story reveals her extraordinary relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe. Part romance, part elegy, Just Kids is about friendship in the truest sense, and the artist's calling.
Before she was a world-renowned singer-songwriter and dubbed "The Godmother of Punk," Patti Smith was a struggling poet posing for the lens of photographer Judy Linn. In intimate portraits of an artist as a young woman, Linn captures Smith at her most vulnerable, as a raw performer on the verge of becoming an iconic artist. Linn's photographs offer a fascinating document of Smith's maturation into one of the most influential women of her generation while also spotlighting her close relationships with other artists, including Robert Mapplethorpe and Sam Shepard. This book captures a moment lost in time, when a poet experimenting with music crossed paths with a young artist experimenting with photography. A must-have for anyone interested in the evolution of an artist, Patti Smith 1969-1976 showcases the collaboration between Smith and Linn that rewrote the definition of what it means to be a woman and an artist.
About the Author
Patti Smith is a writer, artist, and performer. Her seminal album Horses was followed by nine releases, including Radio Ethiopia; Easter; Dream of Life; Gone Again; and Trampin'. Her artwork was first exhibited at Gotham Book Mart in 1973, and she has been associated with the Robert Miller Gallery since 1978. Strange Messenger, a retrospective of three hundred works, made its debut at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and has been exhibited worldwide.
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