Monday, June 14, 2010
Robert & Patti: Mutual Muses
Having just completed Patti Smith's Just Kids, a memoir specifically highlighting her friendship, romance, and working relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, what was most compelling to learn was not only the talent of these two as artists during a pivotal time in history (New York City in the 1960s and 1970s) but their significant influence on each other's work.
During New York's era of beat poets and punk music, Smith and Mapplethorpe lived and worked in the historic, bohemian art hub, the Chelsea Hotel. According to Smith's memoirs, her poetry, music, performance art, and drawing was heavily influenced by her photographer friend and his his fearlessness and provocativeness. In turn, Mapplethorpe regularly used Smith as his subject du jour. Miss Smith even continued to let her friend and former lover capture her image for her album covers until his 1989 death from AIDS complications. The two were such a force together that they were given a joint gallery show at Robert Miller Gallery (where Smith is still represented) in 1978.
Of course I love the intimacy both artists exhibit in their work (albeit with very different aesthetics) and the striking imagery of Patti Smith as captured by Robert is inspiring enough, but the reason I want to share these images with you all is to show you what the Just Kids most taught me: that these are two great artists whose lives and work were inextricably entagled with one another's, and was all the better because they were. I also threw in a few snapshots of the two together in their heyday, both to provide a visual of the time of the heighth of their relationship...and also because these photos are completely awesome. Enjoy :)