Magazine article Artforum International

Patti Smith. (Reviews: Pittsburgh)

Magazine article Artforum International

Patti Smith. (Reviews: Pittsburgh)

Article excerpt

ANDY WARHOL MUSEUM

Any number of important musicians and writers have produced interesting visual art. Victor Hugo made drawings, Auguste Strindberg painted landscapes, Arnold Schonberg did portraits. And, of course, Antonin Artaud's drawings are famous. Rock icon Patti Smith aspires to this tradition and presented a dense installation of some eighty-five drawings in two galleries. Among the works, which dated from the late '60s to this year, were a 1973 drawing of her hero, Rimbaud; a number of self-portraits; Three Studies for sculpture, ca. 1980; various Ascension scenes showing Christ surrounded by rising lines; and her Portrait of Robert Mapplethorpe for Robert Miller, 1978.

Smith draws in faint, hard-to-see pencil but often adds color and language to her works. Some have observed, in fact, that her technique seems modeled after Artaud's, since her rough-hewn lines similarly pretend to provide a pathway to the unconscious. And yet Smith's pictures often lack the over-the-top quality of the better outsider art. Surprisingly restrained and oddly unerotic, a number of them look like student doodles. In fact, Smith often aims for something more in line with conventional art practices: In After de Kooning, 1968, for example, she mimics the artist's images of women but without any of his painterly skill. …

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