Listen to the playlist Café la Habana session no. 6 by Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye on Spotify.
(San Francisco, CA, December 10, 2018) San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) and kurimanzutto are honored to announce Wing, an exhibition of photographs by visual artist, writer, and performer, Patti Smith. Presented from January 14–19, 2019, at the Diego Rivera Gallery at SFAI’s historic Chestnut Street campus, the exhibition features a selection of photographs centered on Smith’s connection to fellow artists such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The exhibition, which runs concurrently with the FOG Design+Art fair, is open and free to the public.
This show focuses on Smith’s strong ties to the artistic and literary movements pursued during travels to Mexico. Presented in the same space as Rivera’s 1931 fresco, The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City, the exhibition sparks a direct dialogue between Smith’s imagery and the subjects of her intimate gaze.
In her work, Smith reflects upon the timeless act of artistic creation and alchemy that unites artists by referring to a brotherhood of mental bonds that keeps ideas alive. In this way, the artist expresses her kinship to Mexico and solidarity with its revolutionary people— a sentiment demonstrated during performances and visits to the country over the years.
During these trips, Smith composed and dedicated poetry to figures such as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Isamu Noguchi, Roberto Bolaño, and the habitués of the Café La Habana, which included Octavio Paz and Che Guevara. Each journey deepened her exploration of the universe of these luminaries with visits to their studios, homes and places they frequented, as well as the close study of their oeuvre.
Wing is also the title of a poem, which speaks about freedom—a treasured right—while alluding to independence, and the power to travel to distant places. In the exhibition, groupings of silver gelatin prints provide an intimate encounter with small, everyday objects and places, revealing the admiration and reverence Smith holds for their original owners. Kahlo’s corset, Rivera’s bed, and Bolaño’s chair represent not only memories of her encounters with their owners across time and space, but also their influence on the artist. In the presentation of these images, the viewer is offered a glimpse into these moments of intimacy as well as Smith’s admiration and close observation of her subjects. Together, the photographs evoke a journey across the landscape of Smith’s mind, as she portrays the many inhabitants of her artistic heritage.
“I am not a photographer, yet taking pictures has given me a sense of unity and personal satisfaction. They are relics of my life. Souvenirs of my wandering. All that I have learned concerning light and composition is contained within them.” — Patti Smith, Land 250, Paris
About Patti Smith
Patti Smith (born 1946, Chicago, USA) began as a visual artist and has been making drawings and taking photographs since the late 1960s. In recent years, her practice has expanded to include installation, such as Camera Solo, a survey of her photographs, organized by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (2011), which travelled to Detroit Institute of Arts (2012) and the Art Gallery of Ontario (2013).
In 2008, Smith was the subject of Patti Smith Land 250 at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, and Written Portrait - Patti Smith at Artium Centro-Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporáneo, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Strange Messenger: The Work of Patti Smith, a three hundred-work retrospective, was organized by The Andy Warhol Museum in 2002 and traveled to numerous venues including the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, and the Museum Boijsman Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Her work has also been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum Eki, Kyoto; Haus der Kunst, Munich; Triennale di Milano, Milan; Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels and the Pompidou Center in Paris.
Just Kids, a memoir of Smith's relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe during the late sixties and seventies in New York, won her the 2010 National Book Award. Her 1975 album Horses, established her as one of most original and important musicians of her generation and has been followed by ten studio albums, including Radio Ethiopia; Easter; Dream of Life; Gone Again, Trampin', and Banga, her latest. She continues to perform throughout the world and in 2007 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In July of 2005, she was presented with the prestigious insignia of Commander of the Order of the Arts and Letters, France's highest cultural honor.
kurimanzutto’s collaboration with SFAI on this exhibition reflects the gallery’s ongoing commitment to establishing new platforms for their artists through dynamic opportunities presented in partnership with an array of institutions in the U.S. and internationally.
About San Francisco Art Institute
Founded in 1871, SFAI is one of the country's oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education in the practice and study of contemporary art. As a diverse community of working artists and scholars, SFAI provides students with a rigorous education in the arts and preparation for a life in the arts through an immersive studio environment, an integrated liberal arts and art history curriculum, and critical engagement with the world. Committed to educating artists who will shape the future of art, culture, and society, SFAI fosters creativity and original thinking in an open, experimental, and interdisciplinary context.
The Diego Rivera Gallery at San Francisco Art Institute is free and open to the public every day, 9 AM - 7 PM. Please note: The gallery will be closed for a private event starting at noon on Thursday, January 17.
For general information, the public may visit sfai.edu or call (415) 771-7020. SFAI’s Diego Rivera Gallery is located at 800 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA.