A strange present !

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Imported, Jan 8, 2003.

  1. Imported

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    thefrench_h: I just get a strange Christmas present from the couple I met from time to time. It's a reproduction of this Robert Mapplethorpe picture (size 18"*24")

    http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/Art_History/AHIS470/images4/19.html

    I take this like an "homage" because I think this a beautiful photo, but I would like to know what you think about it.

    And happy new year !
     
  2. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    Nice suit.

    Pecker
     
  3. Imported

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    mindseye: [quote author=thefrench_h link=board=meetgreet;num=1042046198;start=0#0 date=01/08/03 at 09:16:38]It's a reproduction of this Robert Mapplethorpe picture (size 18"*24")

    http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/Art_History/AHIS470/images4/19.html
    [/quote]

    The photograph is really well known. Here in the US, that photo was part of an exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery. Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) -- a long time racist and homophobe -- used Mapplethorpe's art as an excuse to lead a lone campaign against the National Endowment for the Arts, which had partially funded the exhibition. As often happens when bigots get up in arms over art, the publicity only helped the artist and furthered his career.

    Many of you may have a Mapplethorpe photograph at home and not know it -- he was responsible for a number of album cover photos, including Patti Smith's "Horses" and Peter Gabriel's "Shaking The Tree -- Sixteen Golden Greats".

    Robert Mapplethorpe passed away in 1989, just a few years after the NEA brouhaha helped gain him national recognition.
     
  4. Imported

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    RicanNYC: Yeah really nice suit , what kind of suit is that?
     
  5. Imported

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    Pennone: Though I find this piece to be, like almost all of Mapplethorpe's work, of extremely high quality, it deserves pointing out that many critics view this work as an example of his well-documented racist view of African-Americans, particularly black men. I subscribe to this view myself. Mapplethorpe viewed the black man as intellectually inferior to the white man, despite his awe of what he percieved as a superior sexual prowess. In other words, he viewed black men as fucking machines. This piece is such a prime example of that view because it reduces its subject (a man Mapplethorpe sexual relations with) to a penis, ignoring the rest of his person.
     
  6. Imported

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    Pennone: To be clear: when I say that I subscribe to this view, I am mean that I view the photograph to be an example of Mapplethorpe's racism. I in no way subscribe to his view of African-Americans. Despite his artistic achievments, I find may of his ideas quite offensive.
     
  7. Imported

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    mindseye: [quote author=Pennone link=board=meetgreet;num=1042046198;start=0#4 date=01/09/03 at 21:01:21]Mapplethorpe viewed the black man as intellectually inferior to the white man, despite his awe of what he percieved as a superior sexual prowess.[/quote]

    You called this 'well-documented' -- do you have a source for it? I got the impression from my readings that he exploited that stereotype in order to make his photographs even more controversial and unsettling, but not that he believed that stereotype personally.

    I'm not doubting you, but I'd like to read more on this.
     
  8. Imported

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    Pennone: I have heard lots of annec dotes about his racism, but the best example of its documentation is probably the '97 Patricia Morrisroe biography, which is VERY, VERY good--considered by many to be the deffinitive Mapplethorpe bio. It has a lengthy discussion of his racism, and how it played out with his work, subjects, and sexual partners. If I remember correctly (I no longer own a copy), it is not itself the topic of an entire chapter, but rather a theme that reappears at several points in the book.

    At any rate, if you find him to be an interesting character, or just really like his work, I would start with that bio.
     
  9. Imported

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    thefrench_h: From what I know of Mapplethorpe work, he was a lover of the "human body", he take a lot of pics of men and women, black and white, even if we know more the "scandalous" pics like "The man in polyester suit".

    I think also that he was a strong admirer of big and beautiful cocks, like many lurkers here are :)

    Look at this other pic of Mark Stevens, a white guy called "Mr 10 1/2"
    http://www.sabine-mag.com/archive/images/mapple1.jpg


    TBC...
     
  10. Imported

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    cypher13: I don't know if I should admit this, but back in the days when I lived in the Chelsea Hotel, I knew Robert Mapplethorpe. I did not become friendly with him; his was not the kind of personality that mixes well with mine. We had a casual acquaintance that was struck up in elevator and lobby conversation and mostly centered on photographic topics. I did not know who he was until some months after I first met him, and he did not achieve his notoriety until just before his death; after his death, his reputation took off like a skyrocket. There are some things that you should know about him:

    1. A lot of these "controversial" images were made for his own entertainment and the entertainment of a few of his close friends (of whom I was not one, but I have known several). Since his death, people have gone through his files and found this material and, because of its nature, it generates headlines and arouses the ire of closed-minded politicians. As I see it, there is nothing wrong with displaying the stuff, provided that you make it clear that the nature of these images will upset sensitive people. There always have been sensitive people, there always will be sensitive people and I, for one, respect their sensitivity, which is why I think it's a good thing that there is an "R" attached to many films. They have been warned and if they choose to go in and be offended, then they have no one to blame but themselves. Doing what a lot of these curators have done is an abuse of this sensitivity, which is wrong.

    2. Some photographers, and here Ansel Adams and Minor White come immediately to mind, though there are many others who have both the eye and are superb printers. Mapplethorpe had the eye and was a superb photographer of flowers, fashion and the human anatomy. Pure and simple. For everything like the images of Marc Stevens - another unfortunate case if ever there was one - there are a hundred images of prosaic, albeit well-done and artistic, fashion work or a superb flower photograph. It's just that Mapplrthorpe was a lousy technician and had to have others print this material. In the process, a lot of these "extra" images were floating around photographic circles in lower Manhattan for a long time before Mapplethorpe died. People were just waiting for him to die so they could release this material (i.e., make it worth a great deal more money) and create a big controversy from which Mapplethorpe could neither defend himself nor benefit. To my way of thinking, this is abuse of the artist, the artist's work and the artist's reputation. Don't ever buy a signed Mapplethorpe print unless you get some sort of authentication or a lifetime right of return on it.

    3. Finally, everyone who knew Mapplethorpe, even on the widest fringe of his circle - like me - knew what he was and what he was about. Was he a racist? If so, he never made that clear to me, but making him into a racist makes him so much more interesting to the biographer - I mean how could this man be a racist, right? Well, go through your own lives and there are doubtless many innocent comments someone remembers that could be taken out of context and make anyone into a racist. He was definitely interested in having fun in his own way and he was definitely born with a short fuse, meaning he knew he would die young, so he was going to make the most of it while he could. Thus, you have a story not at all unlike, say, James Dean in which he died young and many people remember him, but Mapplethorpe left a body of work that has yet to be fully understood in the context of its creation or its creator. All the biographers have sought to do is make the creator more interesting than the creation. Granted, there is a lot of material in Mapplethorpe's life to do this, but is it appropriate in any case?

    The point of all this is, by all means read the biographies, but think and decide for yourselves.

    A
     
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