Sound And Vision: Patti Smith's "Horses," Cover Photo by Robert Mapplethorpe

July 09, 2018

Juxtapoz Sound and Vision is a new segment on our platform dedicated to exploring one piece of substantial album artwork every Sunday. Album artwork is one of the primary ways that musicians and visual artists are able to collaborate, and many iconic album covers are simultaneously iconic pieces of pop art. It’s also an excuse for us to share some of our favorite albums and the visual component behind what makes an album groundbreaking and fun.

Patti Smith, Horses
Photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe

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For this week’s Juxtapoz Sound And Vision, we’re taking a look at Robert Mapplethorpe’s forthright and sincere black-and-white photograph of Patti Smith on the cover of her 1975 debut album, Horses. On a musical level, “Horses” is a milestone moment in punk rock and American cultural history. Her unmistakable signature vocal style and raw lyrical honesty rang through an amalgam of rock and roll, jazz, and even reggae inspired instrumentals that characterized the 1970’s New York punk scene.

The cover features a plain black and white photo of Smith in a white, thrifted shirt and suspenders, with a black blazer hanging over her shoulder. The photo masterfully captures the casual, yet energetic authenticity of Patti Smith. Its creator, Robert Mapplethorpe, went on to become a celebrated photographer and was also Smith’s long-time roommate and sometime lover. The two remained close friends until Mapplethorpe’s death from AIDS in 1989, and Smith memorialized the relationship in her book “Just Kids.” Mapplethorpe’s work deals primarily with themes of sexuality and erotic imagery, with a focus on homosexual eroticism. He also worked with a number of highly revered artists, including Grace Jones, Louise Bourgeois, Peter Gabriel, and Andy Warhol.