The legacy of Robert Mapplethorpe (1946 –1989) is rich and complicated, triggering controversy, polarizing critics, and providing inspiration for many artists who followed him. Mapplethorpe, one of the most influential figures of his time, today stands as an example to emerging photographers who continue to experiment with the boundaries and concepts of the beautiful.
Robert Mapplethorpe: The Photographs offers a timely and rewarding examination of his oeuvre and influence. Drawing from the extraordinary collection jointly acquired in 2011 by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, as well as the Mapplethorpe Archive housed at the Getty Research Institute, the authors were given the unique opportunity to explore new resources and present fresh perspectives. The result is a fascinating introduction to Mapplethorpe’s career and legacy, accompanied by a rich selection of illustrations covering the remarkable range of his photographic work. All of these beautifully integrated elements contribute to what promises to become an essential point of access to Mapplethorpe’s work and practice.
This publication is issued on the occasion of the exhibition Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium on view at both the J. Paul Getty Museum and at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from March 15 and March 20, respectively, through July 31, 2016; at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal from September 10, 2016, through January 15, 2017; and at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, from October 28, 2017, through February 4, 2018.
Paul Martineau is associate curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Britt Salvesen is curator and head of the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department and the Prints and Drawings Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.340 pages