The first time I saw Robert he was sleeping. I stood over him, this boy of twenty, who sensing my presence opened his eyes and smiled. With few words he became my friend, my compeer, my beloved adventure.”
Patti Smith, “The Coral Sea”, 1996
Alison Jacques is proud to curate an exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe focusing on the artistʼs seldom-screened film work. November 4, 2006 would have been Robert Mapplethorpeʼs 60th birthday; it is with great pleasure that the gallery has been able to collaborate with Patti Smith on both this exhibition and a unique evening at Tate Modern to mark the event. During the exhibition, the gallery will continually screen Mapplethorpe and Smithʼs black and white film Still Moving (1978) and also Mapplethorpeʼs colour film Lady (1984), made in collaboration with Lisa Lyon. On view will be a large group of Mapplethorpe photographs of Patti Smith, including unique works and early Polaroids, as well as more well-known silver gelatin photographs. Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smithʼs close association will also be reflected in images of them both, shot by photographer Judy Linn in the early 70s. Other works will include: a key drawing by Patti Smith relating to “The Coral Sea” (a book of her poems published in 1996 in memory of Robert Mapplethorpe); alongside Mapplethorpe's photograph Coral Sea (1983); and Mapplethorpe's famous American Flag photograph (1977), showing the tattered flag, which could be seen as relating to the muslin cloth, that later surrounded Patti Smith in the film Still Moving.
A series of important photographs from the 80s of Lisa Lyon will be exhibited in the upstairs gallery. A number of these works appear in Mapplethorpeʼs book “Lady Lisa Lyon” (1983) and some are images now being shown for the first time in the UK.
Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpeʼs 13-minute 16mm film Still Moving had its premiere at their show held at Robert Miller Gallery, New York in 1978. Mapplethorpe wanted to capture on film the essence of Smithʼs presence and her poetry and literature. During the film Patti Smith recites excerpts from several of her poems, among them “Babelfield”, “Combe” and “Pinwheels”, as well as improvising dialogues. Later, Patti Smith explained that the film was total improvisation, citing the basic theme as the struggle between heaven and earth, good and evil.
The second film on view in the exhibition will be Mapplethorpeʼs 5-minute video work Lady, made in 1984 in collaboration with bodybuilding champion Lisa Lyon.