With essays by Patti Smith and Jonathan Weinberg
Celebrated photographer Robert Mapplethorpe challenged the limits of censorship and conformity, combining technical and formal mastery with unexpected, often provocative content that secured his place in history. Mapplethorpe’s artistic vision helped shape the social and cultural fabric of the 1970s and ’80s and, following his death in 1989 from AIDS, informed the political landscape of the 1990s. His photographic works continue to resonate with audiences all over the world.
Throughout his career, Mapplethorpe preserved studio files and art from every period and vein of his production, including student work, jewellery, sculptures, and commercial assignments. The resulting archive is fascinating and astonishing. With over 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.
Frances Terpak is curator of photographs at the Getty Research Institute, where she has built the photographic and optical devices collections. She is the author of Brush and Shutter: Early Photography in China (Getty Publications, 2011). Michelle Brunnick is a visual artist and critical theorist. She was the Robert Mapplethorpe archive curatorial assistant at the Getty Research Institute. Patti Smith is a singer-songwriter, poet, and visual artist. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, and she won the National Book Award in 2010 for her memoir Just Kids. Jonathan Weinberg is a visiting critic at the Yale School of Art and a lecturer at the Rhode Island School of Design.