06 September 2011

Just Kids

Just Kids39. Just Kids by Patti Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I knew Patti Smith was a rockstar who sang a version of "Gloria" that I really like. I knew Robert Mapplethorpe was a photographer who shot flowers as well as controversial images of naked men engaging in homosexual acts that many considered pornography, sparking national debates on the funding of the National Endowment for the Arts when I was growing up.

I had no idea that there was a connection between these two, and a profound one at that. Just Kids is their story, of the poet and the artist and their journey to rockstar and photographer. It's a coming of age tale set in New York City in the late 60s and 70s, a raw, gripping depiction full of odd and famous people.

The community of artists who lived and passed through the Chelsea Hotel both amazes and makes me wistful for those creative connections. Theirs were truly lives of art. However, Smith makes it clear that the road to and from there was not an easy one.

What fascinates me is the creative people they were when they met. Robert made necklaces, collages, and installations of found objects for years before taking his first Polaroids. Patti wrote poems and made drawings, each inspiring and urging the other to new creative heights.

Just Kids reads like an all-access pass to their relationship and that period of time.

Thanks again to Kevin who sent me his copy of the book!

4 years ago on TTaT: Ruins where I can get them, Vol. 2


  1. I always get a little thrill when somebody enjoys a book that I enjoyed. What's odd is that I got this book passed to me by somebody who started reading it, but hated it so badly they couldn't finish. Different strokes and all that.

  2. I know what you mean. Liking the same book is a treat to discover you have in common with someone.

    I can see how Just Kids could be off-putting to some, but amidst the poverty and struggles, I was sucked in by the bravery, self-assuredness, and evolution of two artists from their early days.

    Thanks for the comment, it gave me a little thrill too. :)

  3. It was a cool story, wasn't it? I'd love to see a gallery showing of his work. All media.

    Just to clarify for Dave2, I passed it on out of love for the book.

    BTW, mobile site commenting here is wonky. I typed my comment and chose to comment with my Google account. Upon clicking submit, it redirected me to your full site with a blank comment field. When I went back, it wouldn't allow me to copy my comment from the mobile form. Grrrr.

  4. A fascinating look at a community of artists. I'd like to see a comprehensive exhibition of his work too. The installations would be hard to recreate I'd imagine, but they sounded cool.

    My apologies also, I should've clarified that you enjoyed the book too. You're one of us! :)

    Sorry you had trouble commenting. I'll check my settings to see if anything is awry. May not be able to fix it but will see if I can at least pass on the bug you encountered.