Robert Mapplethorpe

Curated by Arthur Jafa

Gladstone Gallery
515 W 24th Street
Appointments required
New York
Chelsea
Mar 12th 2021 — Apr 24th 2021

Find out more | Schedule a visit | Viewing room

It’s hard to imagine a new way of looking at Robert Mapplethorpe so many years after his death and even longer since his photographs became famous. But in a uniquely structured exhibition at Gladstone Gallery curated by video artist Arthur Jafa, a surprising picture of the late photographer emerges.

Jafa’s curatorial approach offers a reorientation of Mapplethorpe’s oeuvre by providing a wide lens through which to view his practice. His methodology is based on a process of visual sequencing—a technique which figures prominently in Jafa’s own artistic practice of gathering and amalgamating video clips. The order of the exhibition’s arrangement is predicated on each photograph’s narrative and affective elements: Jafa allows the images’ internal logic to structure the show.

Polaroids and polished portraits spanning the entirety of Mapplethorpe’s illustrious career—of flowers, muscle men, horses, and all the rest—appear side by side, a nod to Jafa’s non-hierarchical approach. A similar duality emerges in the works’ spheres of aesthetics and personality and the space between formality and intimacy: an artificial divide, Jafa reveals, since Mapplethorpe’s photographs encompass both dimensions.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Patti Smith, 1971. © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.

  • Through
    Jun 6th

    A traveling exhibition of 69 oil paintings, watercolors and works on paper aims to chart Milton Avery’s trajectory and contextualize his work for a new generation.

  • Through
    May 29th

    Inspired by fractals, Renee Cox’s deity-like collages of Black figures constitute an Afrofuturist creation myth.

  • Through
    Jun 6th

    An economical survey of Jonas Mekas, “The Camera Was Always Running” serves as a touching introduction to the Lithuanian filmmaker and champion of avant-garde cinema.

  • Through
    May 28th

    The work in Valentina Vaccarella’s “Bless this Life” rests on a simple irony: monogrammed, embroidered French bridal linens pulled taut across stretcher bars and besmirched by rough images of modern madams.

  • Through
    Jun 6th

    Daniel Lie’s “Unnamed Entities” at the New Museum challenges the antiseptic aim of curation and conservation by imagining a different kind of organic art that needs to be nurtured rather than preserved.

  • Ongoing

    Dia’s recent acquisition of works by Charles Gaines forms the basis of this survey, which includes the artist’s first forays into mathematics-based grid drawings and other early experiments in medium and form.

  • Ongoing

    Day’s End, an elegiac memorial to and stubborn ghost of eras bygone, will also serve as silent witness to the inevitable changes to come.

  • Through
    Jan 2nd 2023

    The sonic encounters provoked by Camille Norment’s elaborate acoustic artworks serve as agents for social consciousness.

  • Through
    May 28th

    The words masterful and mastery assert themselves the instant one encounters the works in “My Body,” both for Nancy Grossman’s command of a wide range of skills and her active state of dominance, identity and selfhood.