Patti Smith New Photography Exhibitions 2011

October Exhibitions For Wadsworth Atheneum Museum Hartford, Connecticut / Cartier Foundation, Paris

Patti Smith (b.1946) The pioneering artist, musician, and poet has made her mark on the American cultural landscape throughout her 40-year career, from her earliest explorations of artistic expression with friend and vanguard photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the 1960s and 70s to her profound influence on the nascent punk rock scene in the late 1970s and 80s.  This Autumn, Wadsworth Atheneum will premiere Patti Smith: Camera Solo, the first large-scale presentation of her visual work in the United States in nearly ten years.  It will include approximately sixty black  and white photographs and two multi-media installations.’When I was eight my mother gave me Songs of Innocence by William Blake… I was enthralled and began writing and illustrating my own little stories.’There is a great grainy photograph of a grey-white horse in a grey-white landscape, which would have made a great cover for what is still her most important work, 1975’s Horses, had the late Robert Mapplethorpe not adorned the sleeve with that stark portrait of the young, androgynous Smith, a relative unknown already convinced of her iconic power. That certainty of vision made her a singular rock performer, and one whose touchstones were way beyond the usual rock’n’roll reference points. The poetic lineage she sees herself in, and willed herself into, begins with the Romantics.

The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut is the first public art institution in the United States. The are noted as the first museum in America to begin collecting contemporary American art – resulting in our world renowned Hudson River School collection.  We staged the first retrospective of Pablo Picasso in America; we were the first museum to both exhibit and purchase works by Surrealist artists – today almost every exhibition about Surrealism includes works borrowed from our collection. We were the first art museum to also have a theater – and we were the first to show Gertrude Stein’s Four Saints & 3 Acts – which we also produced.

Smith has used a vintage Land 250Polaroid camera since 2002 to create much of her work. ‘Though it can be slightly idiosyncratic,’ she writes in her 2008 exhibition’s press guide, ‘I like the technical simplicity. Near/far. Dark/light.’ A sizable selection of her small, black-and-white Polaroid photographs punctuate the exhibition, arranged unframed in row after row in glass display cases seemingly at random. There is no information as to dates or locations. There are photographs of statues, guitars, objects, people, landscapes. Some are starkly beautiful in their technical simplicity; many are only interesting insofar as they were taken by Patti Smith but well worth a look if not just to see her unique, introspective visual perception.

Smith will also be involved in an exhibition in Paris “Mathematical Even Fire is Governed By Numbers” Her work will include sound and image installations.

“Mathematical” –  16 October 2011 – 1 February 2012 at the Cartier Foundation, Paris.

“Patti Smith Camera Solo” – The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut USA, October 21, 2011 – February 19, 2012

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