Robert Mapplethorpe

Mar  4 – Apr  9, 2005

Galeria Fortes Vilaça

Galeria Fortes Vilaça is pleased to present the work of the American artist Robert Mapplethorpe. The exhibition brings together 50 photographs, made between 1975 and 1989, selected by the Brazilian artist Vik Muniz.

Mapplethorpe is known for his black and white photographs of masculine and feminine nudes, flowers, celebrities, and anonymous characters from the New York S&M scene. They are iconic images in the history of photography, marked by technical precision and formal severity, which reveal, in their variety of themes, a constant search for a classically inspired symmetry. "I look for the perfection of form," Mapplethorpe said. "I do this in portraits, in photographs of penises, in photographs of flowers."

A cult figure within the world of the visual arts since the 1970's, Mapplethorpe was the object of a huge scandal in the American media, when the exhibition The Perfect Moment was closed by local authorities, who jailed the director of the institution that hosted the exhibition, Dennis Barrie, for obscenity.

Distancing itself from polemical themes, Vik Muniz's selection emphasizes the artist's relations with various segments of the visual arts. The exhibition includes portraits of the American artists Alice Neel, Andy Warhol, Brice Marden, Louise Nevelson, and Robert Rauschenberg, and the French artist Louise Bourgeois. Also included are personalities who were close to Mapplethorpe such as the Brazilian actress Sonia Braga, the singers Patti Smith and Iggy Pop, the composer Phillip Glass, the theater director Bob Wilson, and the curator/collector Sam Wagstaff, who supported the artist since the beginning of his career. Mapplethorpe produces photographs that extrapolate the relation between model and photographer by incorporating elements of these artists' work and personality into his own images.

The photographs of interiors, landscapes, and still lifes reveal an even less-known side of Mapplethorpe and his affinity with some of his contemporaries, broadening the spectrum of his known influences.

This exhibition is the fourth in a series of exhibitions that include Eye to Eye, curated by Cindy Sherman, Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Pictures, Pictures, curated by Catherine Opie, Marc Swelwyn Gallery, Los Angeles; and Robert Mapplethorpe, curated by David Hockney, Alison Jacques Gallery, London. A coffee table book will be published, uniting these four artists' visions of Robert Mapplethorpe.

Since his premature death in 1989, Robert Mapplethorpe's work has been the subject of various exhibitions all over the world, including the Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, in Paris, the Stedelijk Museum, in Amsterdam, the Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York, and the Guggenheim Museum, also in New York.