"Just Kids" is Patti Smith's memoir of her relationship with New York City, art, music, and most of all, Robert Mapplethorpe. It chronicles Smith and Mapplethorpe's adventures as young, unknown artists in New York City, up until Mapplethorpe's death.
Patti Smith is known as an accomplished musician and poet. In her new book Just Kids Smith reflects on life before she and her friend Robert Mapplethorpe established themselves as professional artists. Mapplethorpe and Smith's relationship is a tender, gritty, bohemian, romantic, and tragic love story set during one of the most interesting creative periods in New York City. Both Mapplethorpe and Smith are gloriously struggling to find their way as friends, individuals, artists and lovers. Smith reflects on her introduction to Robert, their dingy apartments, eeking out enough change to drink coffee at corner diners, hanging with the Warhol crowd at Max's Kansas City, and their adventures with fellow wanderers at the Chelsea Hotel. Fans of Smith will find her lyrical, sometimes sentimental, descriptions endearing and heartfelt. "Just Kids" is an outstanding punk rock love story that follows an amazing friendship that lasted a lifetime.
I just put this on hold since I'm interested in both of these artists. Seeing Patti Smith perform years ago in New Orleans was a transcendent experience, and saying "hi" to her later that night during her carriage ride around the French Quarter was just plain cool. Mapplethorpe is primarily known as a controversial photographer of sexually explicit images, but his photographs of flowers in Flowers Mapplethorpe are stunningly beautiful.
How cool to see such an electric performer live, and in New Orleans too! I've unfortunately never have been able to catch her. There's a really good Fresh Air interview with Smith about this book too. It's always great to hear an artist speak first hand about their experiences and creative endeavors.
Mapplethorpe is a dichotomous artist, and never boring. Though I don't think there are any Mapplethorpe pieces in the show, the Denver Art Museum has a great exhibit of photographs up right now. Definitely worth seeing.