This richly illustrated catalogue is dedicated to the exhibition „Robert Mapplethorpe and the Classical Tradition: Photographs and Mannerist prints“ held in Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin in 2004 , In 2005 in the State Hermitage Museum, the Moscow House of Photography and finally the Guggenheim Museum, New York. Amongst its 120 plates and 30 text illustrations, It displays around 70 photographs from the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and around 50 Mannerist prints from the collection of the State Hermitage dating back to the 16th century.
The exhibition focuses on Mapplethorpe’s relationship to the elaborate forms of Mannerist art, in particular the study of the human form in all its sensuous manifestations. Deeply rooted in Italian art, Mannerism was an international movement and style which arose af- ter the death of Raphael in 1520 for about one century.
When Mapplethorpe tragically died at the young age of 42, he was considered one of the most important photographers of his time. His elegant and sometimes shocking nudes, the black-and-white portraits, flowers, and still-lives, as well as the powerful, often surprisingly tender images of sexual sadomasochism, have had an undeniable impact on the art world.
From Michelangelo to Antonio Canova, Mapplethorpe was in- spired by Renaissance sculpture and the elegance of late-18th-century neoclassicism. In his quest for the ideal form, Mapplethorpe described photography as “the perfect way to make a sculpture.” A selection of sculptures in the exhibition highlights the dialogue of Mapplethorpe’s photographs and the Mannerist prints with classical antiquity, further illustrating their compelling relationship and a broader understanding of the history of art.
Mapplethorpe described photography as “the perfect way to make a sculpture” He looked for perfection in form with every subject he talked, ripe with sculptural tension, are imbued with an erotic ambiguity.
The exhibition’s curators are Arkady Ippolitov, Curator of Italian Prints, The State Hermitage Museum, and Germano Celant, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York with assistance of Karole Vail, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.