Robert Mapplethorpe is the subject of a solo exhibition at Morán Morán, Mexico City. Titled ‘Mapplethorpe: Escultura’ and curated by Tobias Ostrander, the show is on public view until 18 August 2021.
‘Mapplethorpe: Escultura’ explores the late artist’s interest in classical and Renaissance sculpture as both subject and aesthetic resource. The 36 works exhibited include unique Polaroids that evidence the artist’s early interest in Michelangelo, as well as others depicting male nude sculptures in public parks and squares, taken during a trip to Europe by the artist in the early 1970s. Silver gelatin prints of classical marble and bronze sculptures are included, taken at several museums, as well as examples from the artist’s own collection. The selection mixes sculpture-based works with additional subjects portrayed by the artist, including flowers, portraits and sex acts involving sadomasochism related to his famous X Portfolio (1978).
The diversity of the selection is intended to demonstrate how Mapplethorpe approached all of his subjects with a sculptor’s eye. Strategies that evidence his sculptural interests include the use of dramatic lighting effects to stress the volume of the figures and objects represented, as well as his habitual use of pedestals, curtains and other forms of drapery. Mapplethorpe’s distinct cropping of his images, which highlight and abstract sections of the body, directly nod to the fragmented state of much of classical sculpture. The unique sexual charge that the artist brought to all his images is here addressed as related to ancient connections between aesthetics and eroticism, associated within historic renderings of the human form.