Born in Floral Park, New York, in 1946, Robert Mapplethorpe died prematurely in 1989, leaving posterity these photographs in incandescent black and radiantly luminous white, photographs glorifying bodies in all their sexual beauty and bringing a sovereign classicism to floral compositions. The dialogue—amorous, poetic, artistic—begun with Patti Smith, whom he met in 1969, permeated his life and continues to fuel the creativity of the rock poetess, who admits to taking a daily polaroid as a kind of instant ‘little poem’. His pictures of the future punk muse have their roots in the Renaissance portrait tradition, notably the Dürer self-portraits of 1500, while also playing their part in defining the nonconformist punk aesthetic: a liberated female body flaunting its androgynous sensuality, staring into the lens and defying the gaze. ‘I’d like to be the back of a Rickenbacker crushed against a stone wall during a mad newsreel rerun,’ chants Patti Smith in Corps de Plane, recalling her beginnings in 1973 when she declaimed her poems at CBGB’s, where the whole New York art-punk scene was on show; this was before she was electrified by the group Television and decided to perform on stage herself. More than ever before the photographic portrait conveyed this poetry driven by Nervalian melancholy and the dazzling phrasing of the Beat poets. This artistic short-circuit bursts through in the photo on the cover of her first album, Horses, notably influenced by William Burroughs’ The Wild Boys and opening with the words ‘Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine’. Intense, inspired, poetic, militant, this record, thanks both to its music and its Mapplethorpe photo, is now an icon of the nascent New York punk scene.