Friday, 16 May 2008

Polaroids: Mapplethorpe

Mapplethorpe Plate 179. Untitled (self-portrait). 1973/75

By KAREN ROSENBERG for The New York Times

Since Polaroid announced in February that it would stop manufacturing instant film and that supplies would run out next year, artists like Chuck Close and Lucas Samaras have been passing through stages of grief. Nothing, they say, can replace the Polaroid — awkward, dated, a little sleazy, but miraculous nonetheless. The beloved instant photograph could not have hoped for a better sendoff than the Whitney’s exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe’s Polaroids. During his 20s, between 1970 and 1975, Mapplethorpe made more than 1,500 photographs with Polaroid cameras. This may surprise viewers who are more familiar with his posed and polished studio photography of the ’80s.
“Polaroids: Mapplethorpe” offers some 100 examples drawn largely from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, including portraits, still lifes, erotica and works that fall into more than one of these categories. All the themes of Mapplethorpe’s mature work — the body as a site of pain and pleasure, the ideals of classical beauty, the celebration of alternative lifestyles — are here, but rendered in a more spontaneous medium.
As Mapplethorpe once said, “If I were to make something that took two weeks to do, I’d lose my enthusiasm. It would become an act of labor, and the love would be gone.” continue

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