PATTI SMITH (b. 1946)


Patti Rides her Coney Island Pony, 1969

Pencil and crayon on d, arche paper
Image size: 75.5 x 56.5 cm
Signed and dated bottom right
Inscribed drawing. Hotel Chelsea via photo '69. Biographical information: pony being a 4.5. foot cloth and simulated horse hair construction at Coney Island

Whilst she later gained fame for her music, Patti Smith (years prior to her first album) lived in New York as an artist and poet. For Smith the process of drawing and writing are intrinsically linked.  Much of Smith’s drawing incorporates an image with improvised script, but in the case of Patti Rides her Coney Island Pony (1969), her writing is far more considered making a list of ‘biographical information.’ From her pencil annotations, we can tell that it was created in the infamous Chelsea Hotel where she was living with her great friend Robert Mapplethorpe. The image of her riding a stuffed pony was ‘lifted’ from a photograph taken during a trip they took together to Cony Island.

‘”Let’s go to Coney Island” he said. “We’ll get our picture taken again”. We did all the things we liked. We wrote our names in the sand, went to Nathan’s, strolled through Astroland. We got our picture taken by the same old guy and at Robert’s insistence I climbed aboard his stuffed pony…the picture of myself astride the pony, alone and slightly defiant remains.” (Patti Smith, Just Kids, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, London 2010, p.161/2)

Whilst she drew and took pictures throughout the 1960s, it is rare to find examples of her work before her breakout success in 1975.

Patti Smith: Patti Rides her Coney Island Pony