Episode No. 233 of The Modern Art Notes Podcast features art historian Frances Terpak and artist Catherine Opie.
The show considers Robert Mapplethorpe on the occasion of two exhibitions and two significant, related publications on Mapplethorpe’s life and work. The J. Paul Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art are each showing “Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium,” a retrospective of the artist’s career. The exhibition is on view at both museums — which jointly acquired Mapplethorpe’s art and archives in 2011 — through July 31. The Getty’s Paul Martineau and LACMA’s Britt Salvesen co-curated the exhibitions.
The Getty has published two major Mapplethorpe books. The first, “Robert Mapplethorpe: The Pictures,” is a catalogue of the exhibition. “Robert Mapplethorpe: The Archive,” is effectively the first look at Mapplethorpe’s own archive, a nearly unknown trove of material. It was edited by Michelle Brunnick and Frances Terpak, the lead guest on this week’s program. Terpak is the curator of photographs at the Getty Research Institute.
On the second segment, we’ll revisit a 2013 conversation with artist Catherine Opie. She joined host Tyler Green to discuss Mapplethorpe’s “X Portfolio,” which features sadomasochistic imagery; the “Y Portfolio” of floral still-lifes and his “Z Portfolio” of nude portraits African-American men, which were then on view at LACMA.
Opie is widely considered the foremost synthesizer of Mapplethorpe’s work: Not only has Opie focused her lens on leather and SM communities as did Mapplethorpe, but she shares his interest in portraiture and composition. In 1999, Opie made a series of seven photographs titled the “O Portfolio,” a response to Mapplethorpe’s “X Portfolio.”
Air date: April 21, 2016.