Susan L. Talbott
Director & CEO
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut
“Patti Smith’s Symbolic Portraits”
The pioneering artist, musician, and poet, Patti Smith 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 Smith’s singular vision is expressed with unfiltered emotion. In October, 2011 the Wadsworth Atheneum presented Patti Smith: Camera Solo, featuring seventy of her Polaroids and silver gelatin print photographs. I was privileged to curate this traveling exhibition, (opening at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto in March) and to interview Smith for the accompanying catalogue. Smith’s images are totemic and sometimes elegiac, paying homage to those she admires. She portrays her heroes through the depiction of their intimate belongings, their tools, their even their graves. Her focus on symbolic portraiture will be the subject of this talk.
Co-sponsored by the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center