Polaroids: Mapplethorpe

Alsdorf Gallery

mapplethorpeRobert Mapplethorpe,Untitled (self-portrait), 1970/73, Polaroid. Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, Gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, New York, 2007.12. © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.

This exhibition explored how Robert Mapplethorpe, one of the most celebrated and controversial artists of our time, learned to see photographically through the lens of the instant camera.

Taken between 1970 and 1975 before Mapplethorpe had developed his mature style, the more than 90 Polaroid pictures in this exhibition anticipated the themes and subjects of Mapplethorpe's later work — portraiture, sexuality, the classical beauty of the human body — with a spontaneity and immediacy that is inherent to instant photography.

Polaroids: Mapplethorpe was organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in collaboration with the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, New York. Its presentation at the Block Museum and related programming is generously supported by the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities and Gender Studies Program, Northwestern University; Alsdorf Endowment; the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; Myers Foundations; and Terra Foundation for American Art.