Published by Prestel Verlag23.6 x 19 cm254 pagesHardbackISBN 9783791348704
Sylvia Wolf’s Polaroids: Mapplethorpe brings together almost 300 images from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation’s archive and private collections, to provide a critical view of Mapplethorpe’s formative years as an artist. These works reveal the themes that would inspire Mapplethorpe throughout his career. Included is a selection of his colour Polaroids and objects incorporating his early ‘instant’ photography. Some images convey a disarming tenderness and vulnerability, others a toughness and immediacy that would give way in later years to more classical form.
Wolf traces the development of Mapplethorpe’s use of instant photography during a period of five years, from 1970 to 1975, when the artist worked mainly in this medium. The images include self-portraits, figure studies, still lifes, portraits of lovers and friends such as Patti Smith, Sam Wagstaff and Marianne Faithful and observations of everyday objects. Marked by a spontaneity and creative curiosity, these fragile images offer an illuminating contrast to the glossy perfection of the work for which Mapplethorpe is best known, allowing us a more personal glimpse of his artistry.