Patti Smith is an immensely gifted individual. She has achieved worldwide renown and critical adulation as a musician and performer. She writes, and her recent memoir Just Kids received not only dozens of glowing reviews but also a 2010 National Book Award. Ms. Smith has also been taking photographs since the late 1970s, and last year the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art organized the artist’s first American museum exhibition to focus exclusively on her photography. The exhibition celebrates a group of photos that Ms. Smith took with a Land 100 Polaroid camera; the earliest of the images dates from 1995, and the most recent images are from 2011. Both the format of the artwork – small snapshots – and the content – Ms. Smith’s children, her father’s coffee cup, and Robert Maplethorpe’s slippers, among others – offer an immediate sense of intimacy. The photographs convey not only a sense of Ms. Smith as a photographer, but also offer a glimpse into many facets of her fascinating life and career. The exhibition would, in fact, make a wonderful and unusual destination for a St. Valentine’s Day date; luckily, the show is up until February 19th.
The exhibition and the accompanying catalog share the title “Camera Solo,” which in Italian refers to a private room. In English, the implication is of the singular experience of the photographer. The catalog is a delight – in addition to reproductions of the photos, it features an insightful interview between Patti Smith and Susan Lubowski Talbott, Director and CEO of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.
Reinforcing the double entendre of the title, photos of the beds (yes, as in the places they slept) of four well-known authors are included among the snapshots collected in this catalog. Send us your responses by Friday, February 17: Choose the correct four from the list of ten writers below, and we’ll send you a copy of Camera Solo.