French artistic influences on Patti Smith’s voice

March 22, 2011  |  inspiration

On the West Coast, talk about the latest technical innovation – iPhone, iPad, etc. has long eclipsed any talk about the transformative nature of art in and of itself as well as on oneself. But lately, after reading Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids, I was reminded that art and great artists still matter, that getting inspired by them helps us reach that deep source within ourselves where creativity gets stirred and from where creativity flows.

Below is a collage of all the French influences on Patti Smith’s artistic career (as mentioned in the book.) I have to admit, I was astonished to discover how much French artists and authors have shaped her aesthetic and poetic voice. Rimbaud was her hero. The Illuminations was the book she brought with her when she first arrived in New York. She even made a pilgrimage to musée Rimbaud in Charleville, France. What an undertaking for the love of art, to try to see with her own eyes what the words were still hiding from her, to capture one last impression still needed to get closer to her own truth!

The list is impressive. The artists are among the greatest. Take your time to discover them for yourself!

The urge to express myself was my strongest desire…” (Just Kids 6).

Odilon Redon Les Yeux clos, Arthur Rimbaud Illuminations, Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Henri Michaux, Piaf, Jean Genet The Miracle of the Rose, Dubuffet, Mallarmé

“I protested vehemently and announced that I was never going to become anything but myself…” (Just Kids 10).

Jean-Luc Godard Bande à part, One plus one, Duchamp, Seurat, Camille Claudel, Jules Laforgue, Cocteau Les enfants terribles, Gide, Roger Vadim Barbarella

“But secretly I knew I had been transformed, moved by the revelation that human beings create art, that to be an artist was to see what others could not” (Just Kids 11).

Artaud, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Gérard de Nerval, Yves Montand Wages of fear, Nadar, Blaise Cendrars, Jeanne Moreau, Joan of Arc, Raymond Roussel Locus Solus, Théophile Gautier, Paul Valéry, André Breton


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