Patti Smith 1969-1976 By Judy Linn
WORDS BY : LIZ RAISS
The New York City that incubated and tenderly grew Patti Smith from a teenager aspiring poet into the writing and musical powerhouse she became is wholly unfamiliar to anyone who’s spent any time there in the last twenty years.
When I read Just Kids, Smith’s intoxicating memoir of her time living at the Chelsea Hotel, intertwined in a complicated and deeply loving relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, it was like science fiction, an environment completely foreign to the corporate real estate playground for the super rich I lived in.
After I finished Smith’s memoir, I craved images. I wanted assurances that somehow this magical and chaotic environment wasn’t just the product of Smith’s imagination, or the meticulous product of a very convincing fabulist. Eventually, I came across Judy Linn’s Patti Smith 1969-1976.
Smith posed as Linn’s subject when they were both young, faint line drawings of the talents they’d eventually become. Linn’s images of Smith, thin and angular, her pale skin cut by the darkness of her shaggy hair and black panties, of Mapplethorpe and his unfathomable beauty, of the unvarnished world they inhabited, fill in any gaps Smith’s words may have left.
Both are beautiful books on their own, but together, they’re like a love song to a lost world.