A recent book of the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe is titled Perfection in Form. This title might also accurately describe the exhibition of Mapplethorpe’s photographs, Blossoming, that opens at the Texas Gallery on March 10, 2011. Curated by writer and art historian, Klaus Kertess, the selection emphasizes the perfection that was Mapplethorpe’s goal for all of his work. A classicist of the medium Mapplethorpe exploited the blacks, greys and whites that can only be achieved in the traditional gelatin silver photograph. He also was a classicist in matters of composition, balancing lights and darks, voids and solids, and the architectural with the natural; paying attention to the most minute alignments and symmetry of the subject matter, both in the camera and the darkroom. The exhibition covers twelve years of Mapplethorpe’s mature work from 1976 -1988 and contains some of the most recognizable images from that period. Kertess’ selection emphasizes the stylistic rigor of many of Mapplethorpe’s images - from centered vertical images to cruciforms to horizontal landscape layers. By his selection, Kertess makes us look at the works with a more critical and structural eye than just seeing the sensational or the popular. The title Blossoming is also a reflection on the poetic and romantic aspects of the work and is a natural reference for an artist who illustrated a book of Rimbaud’s poetry and whose formative years in New York were spent in the company of the poet and rocker, Patti Smith. In his photographs Robert Mapplethorpe always found the beauty in his subjects whether it was in portraits, sexual imagery, or the sensuousness of flowers.
Robert Mapplethorpe’s work has been seen in numerous gallery and museum exhibitions worldwide. His work has also been the subject of a number of catalogues and monographs, including most recently, Perfection In Form (2009), Mapplethorpe (2007), Mapplethorpe: Polaroids (2007) and Mapplethorpe The Complete Flowers (2006). Texas Gallery held numerous exhibitions of the work of Robert Mapplethorpe while he was alive, beginning with “Photos and Photo-Constructions” in 1979. This is the gallery’s first posthumous exhibition since the artist’s death in 1989. We are grateful to our friend Klaus Kertess,who first exhibited Mapplethorpe’s Polaroids at his Bykert Gallery in New York in 1974, for selecting such a beautiful and profound exhibition. We are also grateful for the generous cooperation of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation and the Sean Kelly Gallery, New York. Our special thanks go to Monica Eulitz and Michael Stout at the Foundation and all at the Sean Kelly Gallery.