Patti Smith – East Coast punk legend, released her debut album, Horses, in 1975. Let’s take a look.
The simple black and white portrait gracing the cover of Horses was taken by Smith’s good friend, and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith had met Mapplethorpe on her first day in New York City in 1967, when she accidentally wandered into his apartment looking for someone else. The two became close friends, even sharing the smallest room at the Chelsea Hotel (as it was all they could afford), where they would stay up all night and work on their respective art forms. Mapplethorpe has described his collaborations with Smith “like taking drugs; you’re in an abstract place and it’s perfect”.
At the time Horses was recorded, Smith was becoming well-known in the New York underground circuit, along with other bands such as Blondie and The Ramones.
The photo was taken by Mapplethorpe using only a Polaroid camera and the natural light in the apartment. The record company made attempts to alter the image, but Smith would not allow it. According to Smith, Mapplethorpe only had one rule for the photo shoot; if she wore a white shirt, it couldn’t be a dirty one. “I got my favourite ribbon and my favourite jacket, and he took about 12 pictures”, recalls Smith. By the eighth photo Mapplethorpe had exclaimed “I got it.”
In the 1970’s Mapplethorpe obtained a Hasselblad medium format camera and generally took photos of a wide variety of people, including friends, socialites and artists. By the 1980’s he concentrated more on photographing male and female nudes and flower still-lifes.
Sadly, Mapplethorpe died on March 9, 1989 at the age of 42, from complications with AIDS.
Here are some more photos that he took of Patti Smith:
And here are some photos of Robert and Patti just hanging out together:
If you want to view photos by Patti Smith, view this article for more details.