Patti Smith’s ‘Camera Solo’: New book showcases the Godmother of Punk’s photographic work

Patti Smith, Jesse with Flower, 2003. © Patti Smith

Patti Smith, Jesse with Flower, 2003. © Patti Smith

Patti Smith: Camera Solo is an exquisite new book that features a captivating selection of black and white photographs by songwriting icon Patti Smith, revealing intimate glimpses into her fascinating life. Today we take a look at this intriguing book, which should appeal to both followers of Patti Smith and photography fans.

“Each photograph is like a diary entry of my life.”
—Patti Smith

Patti Smith has certainly had a varied career. ‘The Godmother of Punk’, as she is affectionately called, is of course most widely known for her music (her most famous song is probably “Because the Night”, co-written with Bruce Springsteen).  However, Smith is also internationally known as a poet, author (she won the National Book Award for her memoir Just Kids), activist and artist, and has certainly made her mark on the American cultural landscape throughout her 40-year career. Smith can now add ‘exhibited photographer’ to her long list of achievements, as her work forms the subject of a new exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (Hartford, Connecticut).

Patti Smith: Camera Solo (running until Feburary 19 2012) is the first museum exhibition of her photography in the United States, and includes seventy photographs, one multi-media installation and one video work. Also on view are a number of objects depicted in the photographs along with a selection of original Polaroids.

Patti Smith: Camera Solo

Patti Smith: Camera Solo

Exquisitely designed and produced, the exhibition catalogue for Patti Smith: Camera Solo is available this month from Yale University Press, showcasing this captivating selection of 70 intimate black and white photographs.

Using either a vintage Land 100 or a Land 250 Polaroid camera, Smith photographs subjects inspired by her connections to poetry and literature as well as pictures that honour the personal effects of those she admires or loves. In the catalogue’s interview, conducted by Susan Lubowsky Talbott, the artist talks about her “respect for the inanimate object” as well as the talismanic qualities of things in her life. We see, for instance, a picture of Mapplethorpe’s slippers or a porcelain cup that belonged to her father, and are drawn into their intimacy and quiet power. Moreover, these images reveal how the camera has proven to be a means for Smith to retreat—undisturbed—to “a room of my own.”

Patti Smith: Camera Solo is out this month from Yale University Press.

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