Monday, June 6, 2011

Robert Mapplethorpe: 50 Americans at Sean Kelly

Art Fag City just ran my review of Robert Mapplethorpe: 50 Americans.

"Surprise: not everyone has something insightful to say about Robert Mapplethorpe.That’s the lesson from Robert Mapplethorpe: 50 Americans, for which Sean Kelly asked fifty volunteers from outside the art world (one from each state in the Union) to each choose a photograph from the Mapplethorpe Foundation’s archive. There are some clear museological pretentions at work here: the volunteers’ comments – both on each work and on Mapplethorpe as an artist – appear on wall-mounted placards, while a room at the front of the gallery is given over entirely to wall text and a self-portrait. Most strikingly, a broad stripe of burgundy paint circles the gallery walls, a display tactic more at home with war or travel photography than Mapplethorpe’s thoroughly contemporary work. The tone is emphatically welcoming and warm, and clearly aimed at the same broader public that make up the volunteers. This is a show that depends on the wisdom of crowds with a striking (and probably excessive) degree of faith..."

Read the full review here.

The show is on view at Sean Kelly Gallery528 West 29th Street, now through June 18th.

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