11 Columbia, Monaco
28 April — 24 June 2016
Galleria Franco Noero is honored to be hosted by 11 Columbia for a new exhibition of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe, continuing the ongoing relationship between the Italian gallery and The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.
Robert Mapplethorpe, the extraordinary, controversial proponent of the American avant-garde remains an anti-conformist symbol of the contemporary. He managed to embody an extreme sense of freedom and this consistently emerges in the interactions between his artistic practice, the private and intimate aspects of his personal life, his circle of friends, celebrity and the public.
There is always something new to be discovered by engaging with the immensely rich perspectives that the artist left us in his body of work, allowing us to find fresh interpretations despite changes of taste and time. An extraordinary grace is found in aspects of life that can only be revealed by crossing boundaries, never becoming affected or too complacent, flirting with pleasure as much as with the unconventional, while shedding a light on the appearance of things and never hiding their darker side.
This selection of photographs is a sequence of associations, contrasts, and similarities in the compositions and genres dear to the artist: portraiture, still life, male and female nudes, body parts and sensuality. It’s a journey that spans from the diamond-pure freshness of the artist’s youthful eye in the 1970’s, his gushing curiosity fed by hunger for discovery, to the more layered and sophisticated moments of the 1980’s, tinged with a bit of hedonism and skillful refinement. His fascination with a dialogue between his deep passion for and knowledge of classical sculpture constantly unfolds: extremely formal and stylistic precision is the ground on which demonstrates his ability to capture the unexpected, creating a sense of mysterious awe, in the breathtaking contrast between light and shadow.
Each moment captured by Mapplethorpe reveals a magical sense of weight and movement, exhibiting constrained postures and tense bodies which mimic the solitude of still lifes. Mapplethorpe’s obvious desire to treat humans and inanimate objects with the same intention, revealing an inner truth through the sensational perception of his vision and of its prosthetic proxy, the camera, leads to a masterly modulation of stark black and white tones, melting into a field of softer and ever changing shades of gray.
"I don't like that particular word 'shocking.' I'm looking for the unexpected. I'm looking for things I've never seen before ... I was in a position to take those pictures. I felt an obligation to do them." (Robert Mapplethorpe, ARTNews, 1988)
Robert Mapplethorpe (New York 1946 – Boston, MA 1989), studied drawing, painting and sculpture at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn before embarking on a career as an artist and photographer. His work has appeared in countless solo exhibitions in institutions around the world, starting with the great retrospective devoted to him by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 1988, one year before he died. That same year Mapplethorpe established the Foundation that bears his name, in order to promote photography, support museums that exhibit photographic art, and to raise funds for medical research to combat AIDS/HIV. The artist's work can be found in the collections of the greatest international museums and his historic and cultural importance continues to be the subject of prominent exhibitions around the world. Two major retrospectives of his work are currently on view at The J. Paul Getty Museum and at LACMA, both in Los Angeles, US.