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Art: The Coral Sea

By Steven Rosen · May 15th, 2013 · CityBeat Recommends
cover_pattismith_edwardmapplethorpe2007Photo: Edward Mapplethorpe

Patti Smith's Contemporary Arts Center exhibition and concert, The Coral Sea, opens May 18 — also the date of her Memorial Hall performance. 

It is a remembrance of and tribute to her close companion, the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. (Their relationship as young people in the New York of the late 1960s/1970s, looking for their place in the city’s arts world and becoming lovers for a time and devoted friends and muses, was the subject of her 2010 National Book Award-winning memoir Just Kids.)

Both Smith and Mapplethorpe found their place, of course, and became famous — she as a quintessential alternative-rocker whose 1975 debut album, Horses, is recognized as a masterpiece.

She has also developed a successful career as writer, poet and visual artist who has gallery and museum shows worldwide and is going amazingly strong at age 66. 

And he became one of the country’s top fine-art photographers for his resonant black-and-white work, including the iconic Horses cover photo of her. He died of AIDS in 1989 at age 42, but demand for his work continues to grow.

The Coral Sea will include three of his photographs, but also photos of him that Smith took, personal objects of his that she has kept, and work of hers — inspired by her feelings for him but not always specifically about him.

Smith preforms The Coral Sea at Music Hall 8:30 p.m. May 18. Tickets are $50-$250 and available hereThe Coral Sea exhibit is on display at the Contemporary Arts Center through November. contemporaryartscenter.org.