Art and Photography: Robert Mapplethorpe at the Madre Museum in Naples

The retrospective exhibition of the New York born master of photography Robert Mapplethorpe is running until April 8th, 2019, the rhythm is that of a theatrical performance with dance moves and masterful nudes, verging on eroticism

White Gauze, 1984 (Robert Mapplethorpe © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation)

Dedicated to one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century, the retrospective ‘Robert Mapplethorpe. Coreografia per una mostra’ curated by Laura Valente and Andrea Viliani, focuses on the performative matrix of his photographic practice, through a dialogue between antiquity and modernity, photography and dance; a dialogue between the act of shooting in the studio and the performance that takes place on the stage.

Philip Prioleau, 1982 (Robert Mapplethorpe © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation)

Three sections, intimately connected to each other – preceded by an Ouverture in the entrance hall where a feminine and a masculine figure (Patti Smith and Samuel Wagstaff Jr) glance at each other – define the rhythm of the exhibition and give the museum a theatre-like atmosphere. In the first section, the audience is introduced directly on the stage – among dancers, athletes, body-builders, and models – exploring the performance of the subject that is portrayed.

Thomas and Dovanna, 1986 (Robert Mapplethorpe © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation)

In the second section, the audience is in the orchestra, observing the intriguing collective portrait of New York society and of the international jet set of the Seventies and Eighties, through an extraordinary personal diary of the life, affections, friendships, meetings, collaborations of Mapplethorpe.

In the third section, a red carpet for dancers and a sequence of self-portraits of the artist dominate the scene, transforming the space into a real three-dimensional theatre, thanks to some of the most important international choreographers. The result is a dance between works and movements and a cognitive experience different from those we are used to.

Philip, 1979 (Robert Mapplethorpe © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation)

Two retro-scene spaces integrate this section: the (Un)Dressing room, a real dressing room where the performers warm up before the performance, which hosts some images that introduce us to the artist’s vision, and the X(Dark) Room (forbidden to minors) where Mapplethorpe’s most secret and extreme works of erotic subjects are exhibited. [Text Chiara Sgreccia]

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