Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium

May 10th, 2016 / by / in: Exquisite experiences / No responses

No matter if he photographed naked black men, flowers, Patti Smith, sadomasochistic scenes, parts of bodies, Andy Warhol, two shirtless boys dancing, an ephebe in silky gym shorts, bodybuilder Lisa Lyon or himself: the works of Robert Mapplethorpe have the same emotion, even after all these years. As in Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium, the exhibition.

A huge exhibition is co-presenting by J. Paul Getty Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA): “Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium”.
“Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium” is open until 31st of July, 2016 at LACMA (www.lacma.com).

Now, 25 years after a Mapplethorpe exhibition that included graphic sexual images incited criminal-obscenity charges against Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center, a huge exhibition is co-presenting by J. Paul Getty Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA): “Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium”. 

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The photographer’s bulging archive, which features no fewer than 120.000 negatives, 3.500 Polaroids, and piles of correspondence and ephemera, was acquired in 2011 by a partnership of two museums, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the J Paul Getty Museum (a part from Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, a part from Sam Wagstaff photography collection). They have joined forces for “The Perfect Medium”, a two-venue show that amounts to one of the largest ever presentations of Mapplethorpe’s art.

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Mapplethorpe first began shooting with a Polaroid camera in 1971. Initially, he didn’t truly consider photography art. He would first experiment with iconographic collage, drawing on his Catholic upbringing; create colored pencil drawings, including a personal zodiac chart and make jewelry. And this period is just perfectly captured in his best friend Patti Smith’s book, “Just Kids” (for whom he shot the iconic cover of her album, “Wild Horses”). By the late ‘80s, Mapplethorpe was an in-demand society, fashion, and music portraitist, much like Andy Warhol, who, fittingly enough, shot Mapplethorpe in 1983. Mapplethorpe did likewise that same year. Robert Mapplethorpe died in 1989.

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“Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium” is open until 31st of July, 2016. (Later this year the shows will fuse and tour to Montreal, then Sydney. HBO aired already a highly provocative documentary “Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures”, produced by Katharina Otto-Bernstein )

Photography: (c) Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, 2016 Museum Associates / LACMA (www.lacma.com)


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