12/19/2012 11:44 am ET

Jean Genet Birthday: 10 Things You Didn't Know About The Celebrated French Writer (PHOTOS)

Today is the birthday of celebrated French writer and political activist, Jean Genet. The author of "Our Lady of the Flowers" and playwright behind "The Balcony" would turn 102 years old if he were still alive. New Yorkers can spy Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye in the Museum of Modern Art's atrium at noon today in honor of Genet's big day. Smith performed with Michael Stipe two years ago in the atrium for the 100th anniversary of the writer's birthday; you can see the video here.

Throughout his life, Genet produced an impressive body of work devoted to his autobiographical experience living amidst poverty and crime, and the broader political and social issues plaguing France at the time. He found strength in contemporaries like Jean Cocteau, Jean-Paul Sartre and Michel Foucault, who shared Genet's interest in revolutionizing the world through writing. Turning concepts of good and evil on their heads, Genet introduced subversive, illuminating texts that remain influential to scores of writers and artists.

Genet passed away in 1986, so we wanted to celebrate the writer's significance with a slideshow of 10 things you probably didn't know about him. Scroll through the slideshow below and let us know how you are celebrating Genet's big day in the comments section.

10 Things You Didn't Know About Jean Genet