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PM: All the editioned prints (more than 1,900 of them) are co-owned by the Getty and LACMA. Britt Salvesen and I spent a day reviewing them and narrowed down the rough cut to about 400 photographs. We were very happy about that until it dawned on us that we would have to divide that pile in two. We realized that we needed a conceptual framework to help us do that work, so we had a brainstorming meeting. We decided to celebrate the dualities in Mapplethorpe’s personality and work – good boy/ bad boy, uptown/downtown, rebel/aesthete, etc. The Getty would cover the artist’s interest in the fine photographic print, art history, the classical body, and his ability to run a studio as a successful business – all Apollonian qualities – while LACMA would focus on the Dionysian. One of my primary goals was to insure that people would want to see both presentations, and I think this framework will do the trick. Fabrik: During a docent tour in this year’s Photo LA, you mentioned that although Joel-Peter Witkin is an important photographer, known for his often shocking and bizarre subject matters, you would only put three of his photographs in a group show not to overwhelm the viewer and because you wouldn’t want to have a room filled with Witkin’s photographs. In this regard, how did you go about organizing the Mapplethorpe exhibit and what did you keep in mind? PM: The photographs are arranged thematically and in loose chronological fashion throughout the exhibition. An important exception is the X Portfolio, which, rather than being in the first gallery in frames on the wall, is displayed (a bit more discreetly) in a case in the final gallery. It is included in a section of the show that addresses the controversy surrounding the 1988/89 exhibition, The Perfect Moment. The X Portfolio is Mapplethorpe’s most challenging work, so I wanted to place it within that historical context. It is my hope that by the time our visitors arrive at the end of the exhibition, they will have developed a greater appreciation for Mapplethorpe as an artist and a man, so they will be in a better position to understand what Mapplethorpe was trying to do with his sex pictures. Fabrik: What particularly appeals to you about Mapplethorpe? What is your favorite work of his and why?

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Fabrik - Issue 31  

This issue coincides with Fabrik’s Photo Independent Art Fair, and the Month of Photography LA. The photography theme crops up in our covera...