Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium

Exhibition Website

Mar 15 2016 - Jul 31 2016

Robert Mapplethorpe is among the most influential visual artists of the late twentieth century. This major retrospective exhibition reexamines the arc of his photographic work from its humble beginnings in the early 1970s to the culture wars of the 1990s.

Featuring portraits, nudes, still lifes, and the controversial X Portfolio, the exhibition explores Mapplethorpe’s studio practice and the creation of his foundation, which has shepherded his legacy into the 21st century. Drawn from the landmark acquisition from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, two complementary presentations, one at the J. Paul Getty Museum and another at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, highlight different aspects of the artist’s complex oeuvre.

Exhibition overview from the LACMA and Getty websites.

The two-venue show (LACMA+Getty) amounts to one of the largest-ever presentations of Mapplethorpe’s art. Later the show merges and tours to Montreal, then Sydney.

Whether or not you go, the publication issued in concert with the exhibition, Robert Mapplethorpe: The Photographs, offers an examination of his oeuvre and influence. Drawing from the extraordinary collection jointly acquired in 2011 by the J. Paul Getty Museum and LACMA, as well as the Mapplethorpe Archive housed at the Getty Research Institute, the authors had a unique opportunity to explore new resources and present fresh perspectives. Includes a rich selection of illustrations covering the remarkable range of his photographic work.

Also released in concert with this major exhibition is Robert Mapplethorpe: The Archive, by the curator of photographs at the Getty Research Institute, with contributuions by singer-songwriter-poet Patti Smith. With more then 400 illustrations, this volume surveys a virtually unknown resource that sheds new light on the artist’s motivations, connections, business acumen, and talent as a curator and collector.

  • Photography
  • American
  • 20th Century
  • LGBT
  • Robert Mapplethorpe

Exhibition Venues & Dates