This exhibition of 60 photographs coincides with an exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Robert Mapplethorpe and the Classical Tradition: Photographs and Mannerist Prints.
This show aims to allow the viewer to see Mapplethorpe’s work through the matrix of Neoclassicism. A style of the late 18th century, Neoclassicism was exemplified by Jacques-Louis David’s paintings and the sculptures of Antonio Canova. Neoclassical artists, in homage to the Greek and Roman Classical tradition, crystallized their subject matter to a pure, harmonious form with a sober clarity and a subdued sense of color. The static, rigorous frontal view of a figure in the shallow picture plane of Neoclassical practice was often also utilized by Mapplethorpe, with striking and beautiful results. Mapplethorpe’s photographs exemplify classical ideals of form and proportion with their controlled relationships between light and shadow, balance and asymmetry, beauty and obscenity, while at the same time clearly reflecting both a Classical and highly contemporary interest in the human body.
Sean Kelly Gallery Web Site