Saturday, March 12, 2005


I was really excited to visit the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition at the Alison Jacques Gallery today because I have liked his work since I was a teenager, having discovered him through my love of Patti Smith and Sam Shepard. His photographs are perfectly controlled balances between "light and shadow, balance and symmetry, beauty and obscenity" and there is a wonderfully structured element to his work. The vintage silver gelatin paper the photos are printed on only serves to enhance the clarity of his images. I've only ever seen his work in books, so this exhibition was a real treat.

Portraits featured include rock icons Iggy Pop and Patti Smith (who Mapplethorpe lived with in the early 70s at the Chelsea Hotel); artists such as Andy Warhol, Louise Bourgeois, Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein and Ed Ruscha; writers William Burroughs and Bruce Chatwin; as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Gere and gay porn star Peter Berlin.

Also hung were his architectural still lives, flowers and nudes. The exhibition was not as cocktastic as I had hoped and disappointingly there is a complete absence of any of his harder-core S-M images. But perhaps this is due to the curation by "nice and cosy" David Hockney: "I must admit," Hockney told the New Statesman, "I am not really attracted to some of Robert's more graphic sexual images -- I don't object to them, they're just not my thing." Shame really.

Afterwards, we succumbed to Waterstone's 3 for 2 offer on paperbacks. I bought David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, Paul Auster's Oracle Night, Stephen Smith's Underground London, plus Fernando Pessoa's The Book Of Disquiet.

That's my reading for the year sorted then.

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