I find there’s something really whimsical and quixotic about the relationship between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. They seem to be so in sync with each other that it’s almost too perfect. They never really argue, and for the most part they seem to understand each other’s minds and the extent of each other’s creativity in a way that no one else can. There is a period of unease when Mapplethorpe is deeply troubled and Smith struggles to find a way to reach him, which results in them parting ways, yet they still manage to find each other again when they need each other most. Their relationship is so artless and genuine that it seems a privilege to have this view into their fascinating lives, when so much art was being created. It’s really true when Mapplethorpe tells Smith, “Nobody sees as we do”.
I already knew the name Patti Smith, but I really didn’t really know anything about her or her music, or even the 60s artistic movements aside from what we learn in a history class, until I started to read Just Kids. The book has really broadened my views about what those years entailed, and also put a very humanistic sentiment into it. If I ever put a thought into the personalities of the artists of the 60s, I always assumed that they were all rebellious and anarchic and drug-addled. Although this is in some ways true, I’ve found it doesn’t begin to cover the emotions displayed by all the artists, the most prominent of emotions being displayed by Patti Smith and her lover and friend Robert Mapplethorpe. It was really interesting for me to see the gentle, romantic side of a rock and roll icon considered to be so edgy and radical.