One of the Seminal American Artists of Our Time
Born in Chicago and raised in South Jersey, and emerging in the nascent cultural hotbed of mid-70s New York City, Patti Smith forged a reputation as one of the decade's first visionary artists—merging poetry and rock in vital new ways. Her 1975 debut album, Horses, is routinely ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time. In 2007, she was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. In 2010, she won the National Book Award for Non-Fiction for Just Kids, a bestselling memoir about her early days in New York when she met, and made art with, her friend Robert Mapplethorpe. Just Kids is currently being developed into a TV series for Showtime, with Smith co-writing and producing the show. Her new memior is M Train.
Smith is also the author of Witt, Babel, Coral Sea, Woolgathering, and Auguries of Innocence. As a fine artist, Smith has exhibited at galleries and museums worldwide. Represented by the Robert Miller Gallery in New York since 1978, her exhibitions include Strange Messenger, Land 250, and Camera Solo. Steven Sebring’s 2008 documentary about Smith, dream of life: the movie, was acknowledged internationally and received an Emmy nomination.
Smith was named a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture and has been awarded honorary doctorates from Rowan State University, Pratt Institute of Art, and the School of Art Institute Chicago. She was honored by ASCAP with the Founders Award, representing lifetime achievement, and is the recipient of Sweden’s Polar Award, an international acknowledgement for significant achievements in music.
In 2013, Smith was awarded the Katharine Hepburn Medal from Bryn Mawr College, which recognizes women whose lives, work, and contributions embody the same drive and accomplishments as acclaimed actress. In 2014, Barnard College Board of Trustees presented Smith with a Medal of Distinction that honors individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in their communities and their careers.
The USC Arts and Humanities Initiative
What a magical evening we had! Patti was so wonderful to work with and the event was incredible. Her conversation was insightful, funny and stimulating, and the music was beautiful and invigorating. Our audience (and I), had such an amazing time. We have done a lot of amazing programs, but this by far has been my favorite. Please pass on our thanks. And thank you for all of your work. I enjoyed working with [Lavin] on this!
M Train is a journey through eighteen "stations." It begins in the tiny Greenwich Village café where Smith goes every morning for black coffee, ruminates on the world as it is and the world as it was, and writes in her notebook. We then travel, through prose that shifts fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, across a landscape of creative aspirations and inspirations: from Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Mexico, to a meeting of an Arctic explorer's society in Berlin; from the ramshackle seaside bungalow in New York's Far Rockaway that Smith buys just before Hurricane Sandy hits, to the graves of Genet, Plath, Rimbaud, and Mishima. Woven throughout are reflections on the writer's craft and on artistic creation, alongside signature memories including her life in Michigan with her husband, guitarist Fred Sonic Smith, whose untimely death was an irremediable loss. For it is loss, as well as the consolation we might salvage from it, that lies at the heart of this exquisitely told memoir, one augmented by stunning black-and-white Polaroids taken by Smith herself. M Train is a meditation on endings and on beginnings: a poetic tour de force by one of the most brilliant multiplatform artists at work today.
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.
The National Book Award-winner Patti Smith presents a treasure box of a childhood memoir about "clear unspeakable joy" and "just the wish to know." A great book about becoming an artist, Woolgathering tells of a youngster finding herself as she learns the noble vocation of woolgathering, "a worthy calling that seemed a good job for me." She discovers—often at night, often in nature—the pleasures of rescuing "a fleeting thought." Deeply moving, Woolgathering calls up our own memories, as the child "glimpses and gleans, piecing together a crazy quilt of truths." Smith introduces us to her tribe, "a race of cloud dwellers," and to the fierce, vital pleasures of cloud watching and stargazing and wandering.
A radiant new autobiographical piece, Two Worlds (which was not in the original 1992 Hanuman edition of Woolgathering), and the author's photographs and illustrations are also included. Woolgathering celebrates the sacred nature of creation with Smith's beautiful style, acclaimed as "glorious" (NPR), "spellbinding" (Booklist), "rare and ferocious" (Salon), and "shockingly beautiful" (New York Magazine).
Auguries of Innocence: Poems
Patti Smith is a writer, performer, and visual artist. She gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary mergence of poetry and rock. Her seminal album Horses, bearing Robert Mapplethorpe's renowned photograph, has been hailed as one of the top 100 albums of all time. She has recorded twelve albums. Smith had her first exhibit of drawings at the Gotham Book Mart in 1973 and has been represented by the Robert Miller Gallery since 1978.
In 2002, the Andy Warhol Museum launched Strange Messenger, a retrospective exhibit of her drawings, silk screens, and photographs. Her drawings, photographs, and installations were shown in a comprehensive exhibit in 2008 at the Fondation Cartier Pour l'Art Contemporain in Paris. Her books include Witt, Babel, Woolgathering, The Coral Sea, and Auguries of Innocence. In 2005, the French Ministry of Culture awarded Smith the prestigious title of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honor awarded to an artist by the French Republic. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Smith married the late Fred Sonic Smith in Detroit in 1980. They had a son, Jackson, and a daughter, Jesse. Smith resides in New York City.
Patti Smith: Land 250
Patti Smith is known most widely as a musical artist and a poet, but her creative energies are not limited to those genres. This book offers a chance to explore the photography of the punk poetess. Published to accompany an exhibition at the Fondation Cartier Pour L'Art Contemporain in Paris, it presents hundreds of Polaroids and black-and-white photographs, plus commentaries by the artist. The exhibition took place from March to June 2008, and many of the photographs were created especially for the show. The book celebrates a lesser-known string to Patti Smith's bow, presenting an iconographic world in which films, drawings, and photographs converge.
A collection of 22 poems.
A collection of Smith's poems, prose, lyrics and drawings.
The Coral Sea
"Through these poems, a singular, glowing vision of Robert Mapplethorpe develops and emerges. In The Coral Sea, Patti Smith (in the words of Tennessee Williams) 'rings the bell of pure poetry.' " —William S. Burroughs
In linked pieces Patti Smith tells the story of a man on a journey to see the Southern Cross, who is reflecting on his life and fighting the illness that is consuming him. Metaphoric and dreamy, this tale of transformation arises from Smith's knowledge of Mapplethorpe as a young man and as a mature artist, his close relationship with his patron and friend, Sam Wagstaff, and his years surviving AIDS and his ascent into death. Rich in detail, it is filled with references to Mapplethorpe's work and shows the man beneath the persona. Set against photographs by Mapplethorpe, the work emerges as a hymn, a prayer, a fable wishing him Godspeed on his latest journey.
"She was once our savage Rimbaud, but suffering has turned her into our St. John of the Cross, a mystic full of compassion."--Edmund White