My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Just Kids” is such an amazing and truly inspiring insight into the lives of young, free-spirited, driven, inventive and creative artists Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe – written in beautiful and easily-flowing language by the poet and musician Patti Smith herself, based on what must have been quite detailed journals.
Besides the main focus, the art and relationship of Smith and Mapplethorpe, she also gives a glimpse into what the art scene around Brooklyn, Chelsea and the village was like during the 1960s and 70s. She casually drops famous names as they come in and out her life – thus she weaves together a tapestry of visual artists, writers, musicians, who were naturally part of that world, inspiring one another then and who all have become legends in their own right for us.
The fact that this book was written now as a promise to the dying Robert Mapplethorpe decades ago when he requested that she write down their story, is incredibly moving – as is their entire love, friendship and bond of creativity and inspiration.
The book not only evoked my interest in the extensive works of these two artists (I’ve seen Patti Smith a few times play music in the past and knew some of Mapplethorpe’s photographs), it also made me sentimental for my own days of being a care-free youngster, dabbling in photography, collage, drawing, poetry, prose, acting and filmmaking (which eventually was what stuck). But it also reminded me that one doesn’t have to be young and without care, to be adventurous and daring in one’s creations. Maybe one doesn’t even have to be poor.
It’s been a while since I’ve wished for a sequel so strongly as I did when I finished this book. How did live and art progress after Patti Smith left New York City and Robert Mapplethorpe became famous for his photographs… She surely has many more stories to tell. I hope she will.