Horses For Discourses
This week, I've taken great pleasure in following the Guardian series of supplements, '100 Years Of Great Press Photographs'. I've been regarding some iconic and lesser-known pictures of war, culture, leisure and sufferation. Some of the snappers, like Harry Borden and David Corio are known to me while the legends of the Magnum agency are heavily represented.
I'm not sure that the Robert Mapplethorpe portrait of Patti Smith qualifies as a press photograph, but it did make the cover of her debut album 'Horses' and it does represent one of the most confrontational visions of Seventies music. The photographer and the artist were sometime lovers and there's a great feeling of conspiracy in the shot. Patti is dressed like a French symbolist poet (Rimbaud, inevitably) while the jacket flung over her shoulder has the essence of Frank Sinatra. The Guardian notes that Patti also has some hair on her upper lip and that some music industry handlers weren't keen on it. They suggested that fluff was airbrushed out, but the singer wasn't having it. And she was never inclined to suffer fools. An awesome image.