Museums' Joint Deal Lands Robert Mapplethorpe Archive in Los Angeles
This move makes Los Angeles the center for the study of Mapplethorpe's work. The LA Times reports that the works were appraised at more than $30 million. The archives includes a print of virtually every photograph he editioned in silver gelatin, a large number of Polaroid works and unique works, artworks by Mapplethorpe's contemporaries and personal correspondence. Among the treasures is Mapplethorpe's 1978 film Still Moving featuring Patti Smith. The archive also documents the debate surrounding the homerotic nature of some of his work with media materials covering the NEA, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, and The Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center controversies that arose shortly after the artist died in 1989. Those dramatic news events were part of what has become an ongoing discussion on the role of artistic freedom in publicly funded exhibits.
The J. Paul Getty Museum and LACMA will add well over 2,000 jointly owned works of art to their collections, and a substantial archive will reside at the Getty Research Institute. LACMA and the Getty are planning a collaborative series of exhibitions and other ways to show and publish the work in the future. This is the first time that the LACMA and the Getty have acquired jointly and sets the stage for future collaborations.
The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, Inc. was established by the artist in 1988, a year before his death. The foundation had two main goals, the support of medical research in the area of HIV/AIDS, and recognition of photography as art form of equal importance with painting and sculpture. The Mapplethorpe Foundation has spent millions of dollars to fund medical research in the fight against AIDS and HIV infection by establishing research and care centers at major medical facilities.