Choreography for an Exhibition organized by the museum of contemporary art Madre, in collaboration with the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation in New York, brings a body of work to Naples in an innovative show and a performative program starring international choreographers. The exhibition features over 160 works, displayed alongside archaeological, ancient and modern pieces, in addition to a site-specific dance program commissioned to celebrate the performative and physical aspects of Mapplethorpe’s photography.
Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) grew up in the conservative and racially divided America of the 1950s to became one of the greatest and critically acclaimed photographers of the 20th century. In 1971 he adopted photography as his primary medium and became one of the major controversial representatives of New York’s underground scene during the ‘70s and ‘80s.
He died in 1989 at the age of 43 due to complications from HIV/AIDS. In the thirty years since his death Mapplethorpe has become a cultural icon.
The exhibition – curated by Laura Valente and Andrea Viliani – develops into three separate sections, each looking closely at different phases of his work. It opens with “Ouverture”, where portraits of Patti Smith and Samuel Wagstaff Jr, the two muses of his life, are facing each other.
In 1969 Mapplethorpe dropped out from art school to live with his girlfriend, the future musician, performer and poet, Patti Smith (her award-winning memoir, “Just Kids,” is the story of their young lives together in NY). Samuel Wagstaff Jr, 25 years his senior, was his mentor and lover. He was also one of the first art collectors to start buying photographs as early as on 1973, assembling one of the most important private collections of photographs in the world.
The first section of the exhibition features the favorite subjects of his exploration: dancers, athletes, body-builders and models, which he captured with a tight orchestration of lighting, composition and arrangement in graphically stylized black-and-white photographs.
Photography and Performance
December 15, 2018 – April 8, 2019