Love in Photos: Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe

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Albums were dedicated to her by cult rock bands, the name Patti Smith went down in the history of music, it can be found in the list of the greatest performers of all times of the most authoritative music magazine Rolling Stone … At 73, Patti Smith can safely say that she went out to people. Although, when she was twenty, it was very difficult to believe in fame and success.

The childhood of the future rock and roll star was spent in a small town in the state of New Jersey, where her creative nature of the rebel did not find understanding. Patti was friends with the boys and sincerely did not understand why she needed to wear a blouse on a hot summer day, if her whole company of tomboys walks without shirts. The USA of 1950-60s is a country of Puritans. Here, their own, rather harsh concepts of morality reigned. That is why when 19-year-old Smith became pregnant from a young man who was two years younger than her, Patty was not sweet. Parents were against it, the doctor simply did not believe her words. Patti decided to give the unborn child to another family. One of the college teachers, where she studied as a teacher, found excellent adoptive parents. Patti had to move because the neighbors, seeing her big belly, made a real baiting. The baby was born healthy. Smith made her choice. The young woman wanted to devote herself to art. She dreamed of New York, listened to Bob Dylan and read poetry by Arthur Rimbaud, working in a printing factory.

At the same time, in Brooklyn, the young artist Robert Mapplethorpe took another dose of LSD in the hope that inspiration would descend on him and help create a brilliant picture. The altered consciousness gave amazing images, but a sheet of paper remained blank. Robert felt loneliness and thirst. He dreamed of being understood by someone …

Patti and Robert met in New York. She worked in an antique store, and he just went there once and bought Persian beads. Although before that, Patty had seen Robert in Brooklyn. The conquest of the city was a difficult task. Patty was starving, she had nowhere to live. A nascent rebellion was floating in the air, but she, who had grown up in a small town, could not understand the mood of New York. Once the director of an antique shop tried to bring her to an alleged writer. Returning from the restaurant, Patti understood that the first date with a strange man could end badly. And suddenly he appeared … Whether it was a coincidence or an artistic device, which Smith then uses in his autobiographical book, Just Children, is hard to say. But the story turned out really beautiful. Robert, as usual, under LSD, was walking along the street. Patti did not know how to get rid of a science-fiction writer. A resourceful young lady ran to a friend of her friend and asked to introduce herself as her boyfriend. And then they went to see his drawings … When in the morning they woke up in an embrace, Patty realized that she had found her knight.

Immediately, Patty and Robert decided that they would live together. They found an apartment where her modest belongings and his numerous drawings were taken. Lovers were poor, but happy. They were in constant search of themselves. For Robert, “baubles, jeans and a sheepskin vest” were symbols of freedom. Patti continued to work in the store, admiring his restless creative spirit. Soon, a couple of idealists devoted to art, faced new difficulties. Patti was fired due to misconduct, and Robert lost his job because he stole a valuable engraving – a print from the book of his beloved author William Blake.

“Our relationship was governed by an unwritten code with many rules. It was like a game, but the game is serious. The most immutable rule was called “Shift duty”. And it meant that at any day and moment one of us should always keep our eyes open, protect the other. If Robert was taking drugs, I should have been present and awake. If longing took me, Robert was not allowed to lose heart. If someone fell ill, the other remained on his feet. The main thing is that we never indulge our whims at the same time, ”Patti Smith writes years later.

They survived the first joint winter, difficult, sometimes bleak, supporting each other. Both got a job. Patti was almost happy. But Robert had no peace. At night, he painted, trying to get closer to the ingenious Michelangelo in technology. Nothing worked, he became more and more isolated. Patti spent most of her time with friends. Suddenly she realized that her body was bored with Robert. He was still gentle and attentive with her, but the closeness that Patty so valued disappeared between them. She had a lover and an intention to continue life in New York without Robert. Patti moved to a new apartment. One day, unexpectedly, Robert came to her with a serious conversation. He asked Patty to go with him to San Francisco. “If you don’t go, I will live with a man. I’ll become homosexual, ”he threatened.

On this their love affair ended, giving way to another intimacy – spiritual. Patti and Robert remained friends, attorneys in each other's most personal affairs. Together they tried to conquer the art world of demanding New York, fall into the circle of Andy Warhol. Their success was the fruit of mutual support and faith. In 1989, Robert died of AIDS-related complications. Patti was there, missing only the last hours of his life. In memory of Robert, she had a surprisingly touching love story, and also “a strand of his hair, a handful of his ashes, a stack of his letters, a tambourine made from goat skin”.

See also: 72-year-old Patti Smith will become the new face of Saint Laurent


                                                            Robert Mapplethorpe,
                                                            Patty smith

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