William Poundstone
William Poundstone on Art and Chaos

William Poundstone’s Los Angeles County Museum on Fire

Mapplethorpe, Marcia Weisman, and Barbie’s Ken

Pin It

Ryan Linkof has an interesting post on LACMA’s “Unframed” blog about Marcia Weisman and Robert Mapplethorpe’s X portfolio. In 1978 Mapplethorpe’s S&M photos were shown at the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art on Robertson Boulevard. Weisman, one of LAICA’s founders, objected and “didn’t really call for quite a while after that,” according to LAICA director Robert Smith. (At left, David Hockney’s 1968 portrait American Collectors [Fred and Marcia Weisman].)

Smith had better luck with a LAICA fundraiser held across the street in the Hamilton High School gym. The crowd clapped to Mapplethorpe’s film Robert Having His Nipple Pierced. Hamilton High is best known as the school of Mattel founder Ruth Handler’s two children Barbie and Ken. Ken Handler resented being the namesake of his mother’s genital-challenged doll. The real Ken was bisexual and died of AIDS in 1994.

Tags: , , , , ,

Pin It


  1. by Christopher Knight

    Actually, the woman in the Hockney painting “Beverly Hills Housewife” is philanthropist Betty Freeman. This is the Hockney painting of Marcia (and Fred) Weisman: http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/102234

  2. by William Poundstone

    Thanks for the correction—have fixed.

  3. Now that post made absolutely no sense. Even mine do more than this.
    I used to defend Mapplethorpe based on his photos of bodybuilders, male and female. Then I saw his amateurish stuff, at Ligon’s exploitation of the lives of previous generations, from his black book. Appropriation on another level, worse. Frontin what happened to others as being you. Nothing is worse for a Man’s supposed character. And bad art.

    Overrated PR of beginner photojournalism.
    Will see the SM stuff, but so far looks like just documentation of twisted psyches. Boring, weirdness is not deep. And his technical ability is so bad it really doesn’t matter in person. He aint Arbus and she wasn’t WeeGee. Both interesting but far from great.

    Mapplethorpe is a manufactured anti-hero not worth the time or money. But better than Patti Smith, damning with faint praise.

  4. I appreciate how you make corrections of your articles, your blogmate TG wont. I already corrected him about his “brilliant’ Blue Nude/Demoiselles theories of ground breaking(mindnumbing)significance. Demoiselles figures are directly from Cezanne, a small square painting of five nude women in Switzerland and two figure replaced from his great bathers, combined with his earlier Iberian sculpture studies and Matisse introducing him to subSaharan african art, not North African. Cezanne is the direct father, as both artists proclaimed later, not chardin though he was a huge influence on cezanne as far as composition and structure, not color.

    Now he has a silly theory about sailors and Avignon, when the painting was originally named the Philosophical Brothel and was of Carrer d’avinyo in Barcelona, with TWO men, and the sailor in completely different pose than the supposed influence of Matisse two sailor paintings.

    I told him, and hasnt stopped publishing his nonsense. He is a fraud.
    This is why critics are useless, we need art journalists like you, the pharisees of academia and “criticism” are but wannabes and careerists.

Add a Comment