Fans of Robert Mapplethorpe will no doubt have already snapped up tickets to the new survey exhibition of his work at AGNSW. Showcasing an impressive selection of portraits, figure studies, floral still lifes and erotic imagery reflecting his participation in both New York's uptown art clique and underground gay scene, The Perfect Medium will grant fans an intimate, comprehensive insight into Mapplethorpe's distinctive artistic methods and private world.
As one of the most compelling, boundary-pushing late 20th century American artists, Mapplethorpe's photography shaped an era, in part thanks to his portraits of the cultural idols of the 1970s and 80s (think Debbie Harry, Philip Glass and Mapplethorpe's longtime muse Patti Smith). AGNSW director Dr. Michael Brand says that Mapplethorpe played an influential role in establishing photography as a valid form of contemporary art: "whether he was photographing a figure, a flower or a fetish, Mapplethorpe's subjects were unified by an enduring and unflinching quest for beauty."
Compulsory viewing for anyone interested in photography and the 1970s/80s New York art scene.
Images from left: Robert Mapplethorpe Two men dancing 1984; Kathy Acker 1983. Promised Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to The J Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.