Go See: Mapplethorpe Polaroids at the Whitney through September 7, 2008

June 23rd, 2008

Image via NY Mag

The Whitney Museum wil exhibit Robert Mapplethorpe’s Polaroids until September 7.  Curated by Sylvia Wolf, “Polaroids: Robert Mapplethorpe” presents a selection of photographs not usually associated with this artist. This more spontaneous body of work is a combination of portraits, still lifes and erotica and shows links to his later, more recognizable stylized images.  These instant photographs work as a view into the photographic growth of the artist between the years of 1970 and 1975, as well as a testament to the full dynamic of this soon-to-be unavailable medium.

Spontaneity was the message [NY Times]
Shoot to thrill [New Yorker]
Polaroids: Mapplethorpe [Whitney Museum]
Whitney Museum of American Art to Present Polaroids: by Robert Mapplethorpe [ArtDaily]
Robert Mapplethorpe’s Polaroids [The Art Newspaper]

Untitled (Patti Smith) via NY Mag

Mapplethorpe’s Polaroids show the personal side of his life, with many self-portraits and images featuring his roommate and friend Patti Smith, as well as mentor and lover, Sam Wagstaff.  As he was experimenting photographically in these years, he was also exploring his sexual identity. The Polaroids depict an intimacy between subject, artist and camera that we can only expect with such rapid connections between the visual image and the moment.

Image via NY Mag

In these images, Sylvia Wolf sees that Mapplethorpe “learned how to see photographically with the Polaroid camera.” This film pulls immediate responses from both the subject and the artist, which speeds up the creative development of the images. Mapplethorpe’s attraction to this quality was obvious in his own words: “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.”

Image via NY Mag