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Iconic black and white portraits of Patti Smith in the 1970s

Patti Smith, the original punk poet who rose to fame as an influential figure of the New York City punk rock movement with her 1975 debut album Horses, has been creating her art since the late sixties and continues to do so today.

While Smith’s poetry, her songwriting and her visual art have been the focal point of her career to date, for a long period of time Smith has been labeled a style icon—something that materialised the same time as her rise to prominence in New York.

“We didn’t have the phrase ‘style icon’ when I was young,” Patti Smith once said in an interview with refinery29. “I just copied Bob Dylan and French symbolist poets,” she said while smiling… “and Catholic school boys.”

“I had no sense of how it should look, just that it should be true,” she added.

If to be true is a style, then Smith personifies that. Her intense romantic relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe through times of struggle often led to capturing some of Smith’s most emotive and relatable photographs from the 70s.

Upon arriving back from Paris, Smith spent the majority of the 70s writing, painting and performing before eventually forming The Patti Smith Group in 1974. During this period, Smith was captured in a series of images that range from life on stage to life at home.

“If you feel good about who you are inside, it will radiate”—Patti Smith

[MORE] – Relive Patti Smith’s passionate performance of ‘Because The Night’ in Germany, 1979