Mapplethorpe’s Rooms

Комнаты Мэпплторпа
Dates 18 February — 31 March 2005
Address Stella Art Foundation
Skaryatinsky pereulok, 7

Stella Art Foundation presents an exhibition of an outstanding American artist Robert Mapplethorpe. The exposition consists of three portfolios: X, Y, Z. All vintage photographs kindly provided by the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.

The three portfolios, 39 photographs in number, will be accompanied by 12 photographs more, including his late ones, among which his Self-Portrait (1988), made a year before his death. Therefore, the exhibition in Stella Art Foundation gives a unique opportunity to get a retrospective review of Robert Mapplethorpe’s oeuvre, the art, which has always been the subject of study.

For instance, an aesthetic sensibility of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs, which combines beauty with obscenity, light with shadow, composition equilibrium with symmetry, inspired the curators of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the State Hermitage Museum to launch a project Robert Mapplethorpe and the Classical Tradition. Photographs and Mannerist Prints. After its tour, within the framework of which the exhibition was shown in Berlin and then in St. Petersburg, nowadays the exposition has moved to the Moscow House of Photography. However, in contrast to the Guggenheim project, the aim of which was to juxtapose the photographs of the XX century artist and the prints of Dutch artists and to explore common features between them, the exhibition in Stella Art Foundation will introduce a different Mapplethorpe — Mapplethorpe, who is known as an “icon of gay-culture”, who shot sado-masochists, black male bodies, genitalia and sexual flowers, whose exhibitions always provoked scandals (one of such scandalous stories was assumed as a plot for Hollywood movie Filthy Photos).

“Camera offers a perfect chance to lie. If you do not like the gesture or the expression — you do not take their photographs. That is the usual way we lie. But this is exactly where my personal truth takes root. It is my experience, my memory”, — Robert Mapplethorpe used to say.

Time has proved that Mapplethorpe’s “personal truth” is of interest to the world at large. After the artist’s death his solo exhibitions have traveled around all major museums of the world, attracting thousands of visitors. As for his works they have replenished the most famous private collections. Regarding their scandalousness, it is essential to quote some critics: “If the spectators concentrate entirely on the obscenity, they will see only the obscenity. They will neither see the design, nor the chiaroscuro, or the composition. They cannot see art... Mapplethorpe’s real art is not the photography, but a performative art: strange as it may seem, those spectators who censor him, only confirm his rightness. They suppose that they deny obscenity, however, in fact, they simply prove that obscenity — is the only thing they can perceive”.

Stella Art Foundation realizes that some photographs may cause ambiguous feelings among the audience. That is why only people of the full legal age (on passport presentation) will be allowed to see all the rooms of the exhibition.

The Foundation has published an illustrated catalogue of the exhibition.