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Saturday, 27 February 2016

New and Notable: Robert Mapplethorpe: The Archive by Frances Terpak

Robert Mapplethorpe has left an indelible mark on the photography world and further afield thanks to his unique, provocative style. He's one of those photographers that even non-photographers know, since his iconic images have permeated pop culture well beyond the confines of the art world. Anyone who has read Patti Smith's Just Kids, a perennial best seller here at Librairie D+Q, is sure to have a soft spot for Mapplethorpe; Smith's account of their lifelong friendship is poignant and touching, and makes you infinitely nostalgic for NYC in the 70s, even (and perhaps especially) if you weren't there. Smith also contributed an essay to this book!

Mapplethorpe is the sort of rare artist who was celebrated in his own time as well as after his untimely death due to complications from AIDS in 1989. His boundary-pushing, mostly stark black and white photos, with subject matter ranging from portraits (of himself as well as many celebrities), to still life flowers, to self-described pornographic images are instantly recognizable even today - the album cover of Patti Smith's Horses being one of his most famous and beloved photos. He famously documented the gay BDSM scene, causing quite a controversy surrounding publicly funded art and "obscenity" and censorship. Much legal turmoil ensued, but Mapplethorpe refused to be silenced, and his career continued to flourish. To date, the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, which he established before his death, has raised millions of dollars toward the fight against AIDS.

This new archive of Mapplethorpe's work compiles images from his personal studio files, spanning his entire career including his lesser known jewelry, sculptures, commercial and student work. Boasting more than 400 images, it provides new insight into Mapplethorpe's diverse range as an artist. A must-have for any photography buff...or even the dabblers who are just curious to peak into another era.

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