Abrams | ISBN 9780810998322
Hardback – 144 pages
Member’s price: $31.50
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Before Patti Smith became a rock star, she loved to pose as one for her friend, the photographer Judy Linn. These 100 grainy, gritty, black and white photographs—of Smith working, playing, primping in the clutter of her apartment; surrounded by erstwhile lovers, the artist Robert Mapplethorpe and playwright Sam Shepard—brim with bright light and the obvious affection between photographer and subject. Linn, a photography professor at Vassar College whose work is now collected in the Whitney Museum and elsewhere, recalls a summer spent poring over Alfred Stieglitz's work, including the portraits of his wife Georgia O'Keefe ("I thought I could memorize it and crack its grammar"). She describes learning from the "visual logic" and "illogical brilliance" of her own photos—and it's easy to see why. The photographs vary in quality, but at their best—take the nudes of Smith where a dark necktie and belt bisect and play against her long, pale body—capture Mapplethorpe and Smith's youth and earnestness, their wildness and vulnerability. Here is Smith's acclaimed 2010 memoir, Just Kids, come to life—the shrines to Bob Dylan, the dressup—and the photos strike the same wistful note; as Smith writes in her afterword: "once upon a time, we were young and beautiful and anyone we imagined we could be."