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Book Review: Just Kids by Patti Smith

patti-smith-robert-mapplethorpe-homotography-2If you enjoy knowing about pop culture or just like to read memoirs or autobiographies, then Patti Smith’s book about her life growing into an icon will be a good read. Just Kids 2010

Patti Smith is a true product of her time; growing up on the East Coast and moving to New York City in her early 20s. Her young life was spent filled with news about Andy Warhol, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and other stars of the time. She also witnessed those who got beaten with drugs, disease, and poor living conditions. Patti kept her head on straight as she searched for employment in book stores and her writing, as she loved literature, mainly poetry.

patti s

Just Kids refers to her and her companion Robert Mapplethorpe, eventually an underground photographer, who remained life long friends even after their lives went separate directions. Patti writes about their companionship through stories about their outings in New York City, their numerous living situations, encounters with other famous and infamous, and also through their art. They looked out for each other while they struggled with money and their artistic endeavors. They also each built upon each other’s success and made each other famous.

patti-smith-robert-mapplethorpe-nyc-1977-kate-simonPerhaps you know Patti Smith’s song: Because the Night

Patti is mostly known for her work in her band, but she is also a poet and visual artist. Robert was a visual artist and also a controversial photographer. Much of his early work revolved around sexual experimentation and nudity, and while taboo, exposed culture that few dared to address. He was also an artistic photographer in portraits and with florals. He is known for his black and white photographs. As I look at them, I love their simplicity and their playful with light structure. Patti was the one to encourage him to turn to photography specifically. She is the witness to his struggles with artistry, and he was the witness to hers.

patti smith punk

Patti is an eccentric and has a humble view on life. But you can sense through her artistic nature that she has a deeper sense of reality. She had no qualms with being who she was, at least it is perceived that way. She wore what she liked and listened and observed those around her through their successes and failures. Patti was famous at a time of underground art and music, post modernism, a post psychedelic era, and the rise of punk.

Grace Jones 1984 by Robert Mapplethorpe 1946-1989Photo by Robert Mapplethorpe

“Patti, did art get us?” Robert asked her.

We should think about those who lived for their art

*click on photos to find original source
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One thought on “Book Review: Just Kids by Patti Smith

  1. I remember Mappelthorpe wanted to exhibit his works in a Cinncinnati museum back in the later 70’s and there was a big controversy about his works of art.

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