Photos: When Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe Were ‘Just Kids’


“The way I was with Judy, I was with no one else,” writes Patti Smith in photographer Judy Linn’s, new book, Patti Smith 1969-1976 . “We didn’t fit in. But in our world the prom queen had nothing on us.” As friends who met through their boyfriends (Robert Mapplethorpe and Peter Barnowsky) in late-’60s Brooklyn, Smith and Linn developed an intimacy and trust that suffuses photos that show Patti applying eyeliner in the mirror, talking on the phone in her underwear, or locked in a kiss with Sam Shepard.

Along with Smith, Linn includes several images of Mapplethorpe, looking innocent and vulnerable despite his skull necklaces and leather pants. Tom Verlaine, Gerard Malanga, and Richard Sohl make cameos. Also fascinating: a wall of photos that looks like a shrine to Smith’s heroes: Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Jean Genet.

In her afterword, Smith enumerates the influences she and Linn shared: the French New Wave; “the alliance between great artists and their muses — Victorine Meurent and Manet, Stieglitz and O’Keeffe, Anna Karina and Godard”; Robert Bresson, “the trial of Falconetti as shot by Dreyer,” the actress and chanson singer Juliette Gréco. The photos reflect these influence in their spareness, emotion, and the tension between grit and glamor, toughness and fragility they capture.

Linn’s collection of photographs is the perfect complement to Smith’s National Book Award-winning memoir, Just Kids , which follows her and Mapplethorpe during roughly the same period. Many of the photos depict moments, characters, or outfits described in the book. (For fashion lovers, Patti Smith is a treasure trove of bohemian inspiration.) And, like Smith’s memoir, the photos — uninterrupted by titles, captions, or any other text — serve two purposes: they tell the story of young artists finding their voice and style and serve as a love letter to ’70s New York, four decades later.

Click through for a gallery of images from and the book trailer for Patti Smith 1969-1976.

All images courtesy of Abrams