Diehard rock n roll fan that I am, I’ve been reading Patty Smith’s memoir, Just Kids, and I wanna say it is rockin’. She is a shameless namedropper, (I’ve never heard of half the names she mentions), but her experience with Robert Mapplethorpe is a gem of a portrait of the artist as a young man…and of herself.
I grew up on the heels of her time, and like Patty, with great awareness and curiosity about Andy Warhol’s Factory, Max’s Kansas City, the Beats, and an era of music that changed the world; the era that shaped Patty and Robert. I wonder if that which was can ever happen again. It seems as if the blossoming of art in the seventies mimicked the beats of the fifties, which followed the pattern of the art boom of the impressionists of the turn of another century.
All of these movements were inventing something new in a time when something new could be invented. I am not so naïve to believe nothing new will come along, it is just that in a world as crowded as this one, it seems more and more impossible to be both original and visible as it was in those times. What I see is more stuff and less substance. And let us not dismiss the power of advertising.
Patty and Robert yearned for accomplishment. They were willing to starve for art, Patty by choice, Robert by necessity. To each the calling was powerful, like a call to prayer. Despite uncertainty and with conviction they paid penance for the possibility of future reward. Both became something, fulfilling the mysterious human urge to succeed. Just Kids takes us on their uniquely magical journey in a mystical time.