posted on March 27, 2008 17:20
The Fondation Cartier is one of the hippest and most interesting cultural exhibition spaces in Paris. The building itself - all glass and greenery - is impressive yet intimate. Similarly, its shows are ambitious but always accessible and informative.
Your blogger saw the excellent 'Rock n'Roll 39-59' exhibition there last summer. And this spring the Fondation Cartier rocks out again, as it presents a selection of visual work by rock icon Patti Smith (right).
The exhibition is centred on Smith's photography. Unlike the sharp, provocative images of Robert Mapplethorpe (who took the famous cover shot of Smith for her 'Horses' album), her black and white Polaroid pictures are often blurred and impressionistic, making the viewer fill in the details and outlines.
One interesting series of photos depicts personal belongings of artists who influenced her: Mapplethorpe's slippers, Virginia Woolf's bed and Herman Hesse's typewriter. The viewer's instinct is to work back from the possession to its celebrated owner.
The show also features drawings and films made by Smith since her teens.
Though Smith and her music evoke late-'70s New York, her personal inspiration has come largely from Paris. Famously, she has spoken of Rimbaud as a major influence on her lyrics, creating new interest in the French poet. She first came to Paris in 1969, and drawings from that period can be seen in the show.
Among all the Frenchness there's an Irish contribution to Smith's exhibition. Kevin Shields has collaborated on an audio piece called 'The Coral Sea'.
As well as the visual exhibits, there are a number of live music events at the centre during the show's run. To kick things off, the lady herself will perform readings and music dedicated to Virginia Woolf. On 6 April Smith will be joined by longtime associates Lenny Kaye and Tony Shanahan for an acoustic concert. Other concerts during the exhibition period will feature Tom Verlaine and Jeffrey Lewis.
The show runs from 28 March until 22 June.
Here's some vintage live action from Patti Smith, performing 'Free Money' live in Stockholm in 1976: