new-york

Franz Gertsch, Patti Smith IV, 1979, acrylic on canvas, 9' 4 1/2“ x 13' 9 3/4”.

Franz Gertsch

Gagosian Gallery

In 1977, after the albums Horses and Radio Ethiopia but before Easter and Wave, Patti Smith came to Cologne to perform at the adventurous Galerie Veith Turske. Franz Gertsch was a forty-seven-year-old Photorealist painter then. Like many fans before and since, from avant-gardists to punk-rock teenagers, he had fallen in love with the magnetic butch-sylph portrait of Smith by Robert Mapplethorpe on the cover of Horses, and he came to the show to shoot his own pictures. He used a flash that annoyed the diva, and she crumpled a piece of paper and threw it at him—a storied moment captured in the painting Patti Smith II, 1978, one of a series of five large canvases made between 1978 and 1979, all of which were at Gagosian. Skinny, equine, lank-haired, lithe, Gertsch’s Smith squats to fiddle with her amp; leans forward into a tangle of microphones; grimaces gorgeously at the implied camera. She

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