Tyler Green
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Tyler Green Modern Art Notes

The MAN Podcast: Robert Mapplethorpe’s XYZ

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This week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast features Los Angeles County Museum of Art curator Britt Salvesen and artist Catherine Opie on the occasion of LACMA’s presentation of three Robert Mapplethorpe portfolios: The ‘X Portfolio,’ which features sadomasochistic imagery; the ‘Y Portfolio’ of floral still-lifes and the ‘Z Portfolio’ of nude portraits African-American men.

LACMA installed the three portfolios — apparently the first time an American art museum has exhibited them since the late 1980s — in October, 2012. They’ll remain on view in the museum’s Ahmanson Building, in a gallery just inside the front door, through March 24. Salvesen, who organized the installation, hung the three portfolios in staggered horizontal rows on dark red walls. (For some installation shots, click through to the jump.) The installation is LACMA’s first presentation of Mapplethorpe’s work since LACMA, the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute jointly purchased Mapplethorpe’s art and archive, including over 1,900 editioned prints, more than 1,000 non-editioned prints, 200 unique mixed-media objects, over 160 Polaroids, 120,000 negatives and related archival material. The museums are planning a major retrospective for 2016.

Salvesen is the head of LACMA’s photography department. Previously she was the director and chief curator of the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona. She has curated exhibitions of Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, Harry Callahan, Danny Lyon and a group exhibition re-examining the landmark “The New Topographics” show.

Opie was the subject of a retrospective at the Guggenheim in 2008. Her “Twelve Miles to the Horizon: Sunrises and Sunsets,” is on view at the Long Beach Museum of Art through March 24. She will debut a new series of work at Regen Projects in Los Angeles later this month. Opie is widely considered the foremost synthesizer of Mapplethorpe’s work: Not only has Opie also focused her lens on leather and SM communities as did Mapplethorpe, but she shares his interest in portraiture and composition. In 1999 Opie made a series of seven photographs titled the “O Portfolio,” a response to Mapplethorpe’s “X Portfolio.”

Among the topics we discuss:

  • Salvesen’s unusual installation, which was motivated by comments Mapplethorpe made in 1989;
  • The 2004 exhibition of work from the Mapplethrope estate that Opie curated for LA’s Marc Selwyn Gallery;
  • How Opie discovered Mapplethorpe’s work while a student in San Francisco; and
  • The extent to which Mapplethorpe’s youthful experience in the Catholic Church influenced the three portfolios.

Listen to the program: To download the show to your PC/mobile device or to listen in your browser, click here. Subscribe to The Modern Art Notes Podcast via iTunes, SoundCloud or RSS. Stream the program at MANPodcast.com.

The Modern Art Notes Podcast is an independent production of Modern Art Notes Media. It is edited by Wilson Butterworth. The MAN Podcast is released under this Creative Commons license. Special thanks to Ryan Linkof for his assistance with this week’s show.

For links images of artworks discussed on this week’s show, please click through to the jump.

Installation views at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Hendrik Goltzius, The Sleeping Danae Being Prepared to Receive Jupiter, 1603. Collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

From the ‘X Portfolio’

Robert Mapplethorpe, Jim (Sausalito), 1977.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Helmut, N.Y.C., 1978.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Joe, N.Y.C., 1978.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Dick, N.Y.C., 1978.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Self-Portrait, N.Y.C., 1978.

From the ‘Y Portfolio’

Robert Mapplethorpe, Tuberose, N.Y.C., 1977.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Lily, N.Y.C., 1977.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Buds (Lily), N.Y.C., 1977.

From the ‘Z Portfolio’

Robert Mapplethorpe, Daniel, N.Y.C. (Z Portfolio), 1981.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Untitled, N.Y.C., 1981.

From the 2004 Marc Selwyn exhibition curated by Catherine Opie.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Leather Mask, 1980.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Peeing in Glass, 1977.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Self-Portrait, 1980.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Two Men Dancing, 1984.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Winter Landscape, 1979.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Alice Neel, 1984.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Arm (Self-Portrait), 1976.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1976.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Television, 1982.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Pictures/Self-Portrait, 1977.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Pictures/Self-Portrait, 1977.

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