Robert Mapplethorpe, Revisited
Two new populist takes on the controversial photographer.
More than two decades after the death of Robert Mapplethorpe, we're still unraveling strands of meaning from images he created. A new exhibition and a new book offer compelling appraisals of the influential photographer's work. While Mapplethorpe may have been a symbol of the culture wars, "50 Americans" at Sean Kelly Gallery in New York City argues for his universality: It includes 50 of his photographs, each chosen by a different American from a different state, with their commentary. Meanwhile, Mapplethorpe X7, a collection of seven sets of images curated by noteworthy artists like Robert Wilson and David Hockney alongside their commentary, offers insight into how Mapplethorpe's friends and peers see him now. Here, a sampling of each.