In this era of still-on-the-stretcher, deathbed Tweeting, it was refreshing to see throngs of New Yorkers braving the bitter cold Wednesday night to pay homage to rock god Patti Smith (above left) and her decidedly analog art. In yet another permutation of her decade-plus collaboration with photographer Steven Sebring, Smith, 63, has mounted "Objects of Life" at the Robert Miller Gallery in Chelsea, a far-flung multi-media mix that includes everything from her elaborate wooden litter strewn with poetry and eerie silkscreens of Ground Zero to Sebring’s worshipful shot of Smith’s crusty old black boots.
Without question, Smith has been feeling the love on the serious-artist front. The show comes on the heels of retrospectives at Fondation Cartier in Paris and Artium Centro-Museo Vasco de Arte in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, as well as a 300-work extravaganza organized by the Andy Warhol Museum that made the rounds from Houston to Rotterdam.
A cynic might posit that "Objects" is the cash-money leg of the duo’s artistic tour. (Sebring's documentary, “Patti Smith: Dream of Life,” aired late last month on PBS, and Sebring has provided artwork for three of Smith’s recent albums.) Still, it’s fun to see them squaring off against each other, as they do with their dual images of Childhood Dress. While Smith’s black and white Polaroid of her sweet smocked kiddie frock is listed at $3000, Sebring’s take—a lush, light-boxy pigment print—can be had for $12,500. Not that Smith is selling herself short; her haunting “South Tower Skyline” silkscreen is expected to fetch $45,000.
Next up for the ageless, eternally busy bee: Just Kids (Ecco), a memoir of her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, which bows later this month.
Photos by Ryan James MacFarland.