Robert Mapplethorpe’s in-your-face queer aesthetic secured him a legacy well past his death in 1989. But it also earned him the animosity of critics on both sides of the political spectrum: Some claimed his work was just pornography, while others decried his explicit images of African-American men as objectification.
Last year the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) acquired a trove of works by Mapplethorpe, some of which are now on view in two concurrent Los Angeles exhibitions, “In Focus: Robert Mapplethorpe” at the J. Paul Getty Museum and “Robert Mapplethorpe: XYZ” at LACMA.
“In Focus” includes more than 20 works from the out photographer, dating from the 1970s and ’80s, including Polaroids, self-portraits, nudes, and rarely shown mixed-media works. “Robert Mapplethorpe: XYZ,” meanwhile offers up the 39 black-and-white images that comprise Mapplethorpe’s X, Y, and Z portfolios from 1978-1981, which address homosexual sadomasochistic imagery (X), floral still lifes (Y); and nude portraits of African-American men (Z).
Both shows run through March 24, 2013.
Below, view a selection of images from “In Focus: Robert Mapplethorpe” and “XYZ”