17 January, 2010

The Duchess Desires . . .

"Just Kids" by Patti Smith

Although the Duchess's telephone table is positively overflowing with books (reviews of Michael Gross's "Models" and Jay McInerney's new collection of short stories "How it Ended" forthcoming, dear readers), she must must must obtain a copy of Patti Smith's newly published autobiography "Just Kids" (Ecco, $27). The iconic Ms. Smith signs copies of "Just Kids" at Los Angeles's Skylight Books (Los Feliz, 1818 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90027) on January 30, 2010. The Duchess will be there.

(Patti Smith "Horses," her debut album, 1975, cover photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe)

"Just Kids" details the hungry days of artistry and heartbreak Ms. Smith and the artist Robert Mapplethorpe (he of the sinewy male nudes and sinewy blossoming flowers) shared in Chelsea in the early 1970s. Coming together in the Chelsea Hotel (pre-gift shop), Ms. Smith and Mr. Mapplethorpe (who died of AIDS in 1989) supported and loved each other into blossoming artists who mirrored the evolving mores of their times. Ms. Smith (recently mentioned on the Duchess for her current photography show at the Robert Miller Gallery), that he/she of androgynous Sturm und Drang, records in paintstaking detail the "appropriate magic" of her creative union with Mr. Mapplethorpe as both of them were emerging into controversial adulthood from the innocence and naivete of their being "just kids."

(Robert Mapplethorpe, Self-Portrait, 1980)

Book Description from Harper Collins:

"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."

(Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, 1986)

(Robert Mapplethorpe, Gun Blast, 1985)

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