Twenty-five years after Mapplethorpe’s death, an overview on his nudes, portraits, self-portraits, floral still lifes, and other works compiled by the art critic Germano Celant. Robert Mapplethorpe’s wide, provocative, and powerful body of work has established him as one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. Since 1977, Germano Celant has studied the life and work of Robert Mapplethorpe, participating in interviews and writing essays for several publications and exhibitions. For the first time, this volume gathers the complete anthology of Celant’s writings on the artist: from the 1983 exhibition at Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, with the collaboration of the artist himself, to the posthumous writings published in the catalogs prepared on the occasion of the exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, and the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, since 1990.This publication, through over 140 images and texts that appear both personal and scientific, aims to pay tribute to Robert Mapplethorpe’s contribution to the history of photography.
Germano Celant, a renowned art historian, critic, and theoretician, has served as the curator of hundreds of exhibitions worldwide and published more than one hundred books and catalogs.
Published by La Fábrica/Galería Elvira González. Text by Siri Hustvedt.
Taking as its point of departure the meeting of two artists at a tumultuous moment in the 1980s, Almodovar’s Gaze explores how the photographic and filmmaking lens can fruitfully overlap. American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (1946–1989) and Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar (born 1949) first met in Madrid in 1984, when the photographer was there on a visit occasioned by his first exhibition in the city. Mapplethorpe was already an accomplished artist, 38 years old and sure of himself and his sensibility. Pedro Almodóvar was a well-known filmmaker in the Spanish underground, and the best-known international representative of the Madrid–based countercultural Movida movement that arose after General Franco’s death in 1975. Mapplethorpe and Almodóvar had gone out partying in Madrid, which at the time was particularly receptive to young artists closer to the underground than to the establishment. The later impact that Mapplethorpe’s retrospective exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art had on Almodóvar in 1987 was tremendous. This intimate arrangement of Mapplethorpe’s seductive and powerful images was carefully selected by Almodóvar from over 1,700 of Mapplethorpe’s photographs.
Published by Guggenheim Museum. Essays by Germano Celant, Jennifer Blessing, and Arkady Ippolitov.
Robert Mapplethorpe never concealed his interest in and passion for the human figure in all its sensuous manifestations. His celebrated black-and-white photographs from the later part of the 20th century reveled in the athletic body, the nude body, the exquisite body. This groundbreaking exhibition and its accompanying catalogue explore the relationship between the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe and Classical art, in particular through Mannerist engravings and sculpture. The pairing of works is among the first collaborations between the Guggenheim Museum and the State Hermitage Museum. Robert Mapplethorpe and the Classical Tradition exemplifies the artist's rapport with the elongated and elaborate forms of Mannerist art, namely the study of the human body, highlighting the underlying classicism evident in the clarity and potency of all Mapplethorpe's subjects as well as their explosive energy. The classical ideal was not only a poetic inspiration but also an ethical model and, in his creative quest, Mapplethorpe described photography as "the perfect way to make a sculpture." The potency of love and Eros, which electrifies many of the Mannerist works shown here, is articulated again in the work of Mapplethorpe. The vital anatomical forms of his portraits of models such as bodybuilder Lisa Lyons and the statuesque Derrick Cross find their roots in Antiquity, and here they find their mirror in the likes of Jan Harmensz Muller's Sabine woman and Jacob Matham's Apollo.
The Hermitage's superb collection of Italian painting and sculpture amply illustrates the course of Italian art from the Middle Ages to the 18th century and includes an impressive collection of Mannerist works. Approximately 50 Mannerist works from the Hermitage collection are paired with the same number of works by Mapplethorpe from the Guggenheim's collection, are several Italian, French and Flemish bronze sculptures from the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
Essays by the curators are included: Addressing the return to Classicism at the end of the 16th, 19th, and 20th centuries, Arkady Ippolitov discusses the obsession that defines both the work of Mapplethorpe and the Mannerists. Germano Celant's text further explores the influence this 16th-century style had on Mapplethorpe's artistic practice and sensibility, illuminating the artist's interest in the study of pure form as well as allegorical imagery. Articulated in both word and image, the catalogue also traces Mapplethorpe's complex relationship to the history of art more broadly, ranging from Neoclassicism to Surrealism, with comparisons to the work of Jacques-Louis David, Antonio Canova, Auguste Rodin, Man Ray, and more. A third essay by Guggenheim Curator Jennifer Blessing traces allegorical representations in 19th- and 20th-century photography, with references to Mapplethorpe's oeuvre.