Robert Mapplethorpe: XYZ

Ahmanson, Level 2
October 21, 2012–March 24, 2013

The X, Y, and Z Portfolios (published in 1978, 1978, and 1981, respectively) by American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (1946–1989) summarize Mapplethorpe’s ambitions as a fine-art photographer and contemporary artist, reflecting the tripartite division of his mature work: homosexual sadomasochistic imagery (X); floral still lifes (Y); and nude portraits of African-American men (Z). Mapplethorpe’s work has consistently provoked strong reactions, notably during the so-called Culture Wars of the 1980s. The exhibition is an  opportunity to assess Mapplethorpe’s confrontational photographs—with their paradoxical mix of classicizing, austere form and raw, uninhibited content—through three series that defined not only his artistic career, but also a moment in American cultural politics. The exhibition, together with the Getty Museum’s concurrent In Focus: Robert Mapplethorpe, celebrates the landmark joint acquisition, in 2011, of the Robert Mapplethorpe Archive by LACMA, the Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute.

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Image: Cedric, N.Y.C., 1978, from X Portfolio, gelatin silver print, jointly acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The J. Paul Getty Trust; partial gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by The David Geffen Foundation and The J. Paul Getty Trust, © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.

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