A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[PHOTO] Thirty-one photos from Focus : Perfection, Musée de beaux-arts de Montréal

Focus : Perfection, the touring exhibit of the works of Robert Mapplethorpe, is a brilliant exhibit. It collects the vast oeuvre of a 20th century master, presenting them for curious audiences. I was very glad to have my ticket.


The first room at the Musée was an introduction, containing some of his photographic influences, some of his early works like a rare surviving installation, and self-portraits.

Untitled (Altarpiece)

Self-portrait, 1983

Self-portrait, 1988

An area of his polaroids contained an image of Sam Wagstaff, his lover and patron.

Sam Wagstaff, around 1972

As a photographer of celebrities and soon-to-be-celebrities, Mapplethorpe was unchallenged. (His collaborations with Patti Smith, her as subject and her as writer, did not go unnoticed in the exhibit.)

Yoko Ono, 1988

Richard Gere, 1982

Patti Smith, 1975

Patti Smith, Horses (1975)

Contact sheet, Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry

Deborah Harry, 1978

Andy Warhol, 1986

"Content Warning"

This is a safe for work blog, so there will be no images of his explicit work. I will say that, overall, I do think he succeeded in his goal of making pornography art.

Colophon, Portfolio X, by Paul Schmidt

Colophon, Portfolio Y, by Patti Smith

Colophon, Portfolio X, by Edmund White

Portfolios X, Y and Z

His turn to flowers in later years was motivated by commercial reasons–apparently Mapplethorpe disliked flowers–but he did with them what he did with other photos, his images of people and things and actions, taking images of life and imbuing the viewer with a sense of their transience.

Lily, N.Y.C.

Rose, N.Y.C.

Melody (Shoe)


Swans, The Burning World (1989)

Rose, 1987

Two vases and flower

Coral Sea, 1983

The famous 1983 contrast/compare of Ken Moody and Robert Sherman is eye-catching.

Ken Moody and Robert Sherman, 1983

The end of Mapplethorpe’s exhibit, as with the end of his life, was concerned with his fame: the controversies surrounding his work, the space that he helped create for the discussion of people who were different, and, of course, the merchandise. (All the postcards were safe for work, if you’re curious.)

Walls of editorial cartoons

Staircase (1)

Staircase (2)




Written by Randy McDonald

January 16, 2017 at 2:30 pm

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