Out of the Closet?
LACMA’s plan to open a show featuring Robert Mapplethorpe’s gay sadomasochistic photographs two weeks before Election Day proves we’ve come a long way—maybe
For the last two decades, the graphic images in Robert Mapplethorpe’s “X Portfolio” were rarely shown in U.S. art institutions, even as they packed museum galleries in Europe, Asia, and beyond.
After the 1990 obscenity trial in Cincinnati, some American museum leaders undoubtedly thought the work was too hot to handle. But the artist’s low profile in his native country was also the result of a longtime strategy by his own foundation, which nixed several U.S. museums’ proposals for Mapplethorpe shows out of concern they would be sensationalized. “It was too overwhelming,” says Mapplethorpe Foundation president Michael Ward Stout. “People were losing track of the fact he was a serious artist.”
Now, two decades after it was denounced by Jesse Helms in Congress and almost sent a museum director to jail, the “X Portfolio” is finally coming out. Beginning October 21, in a space beyond immediate sightlines where labels note the content may not be appropriate for everyone, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will present each work in Mapplethorpe’s controversial series, including a picture of a finger inserted into a penis, several scenes of objects being inserted into an anus, and two portraits of nude children. Two companion series will also be on view: The Y Portfolio (1978), featuring flower still lifes, and the Z Portfolio (1981), portraits of nude black males.
Today’s audience, accustomed to contemporary museum fare like Paul McCarthy, not to mention cable and the Internet, won’t find Mapplethorpe’s sadomasochistic images particularly shocking, predicts LACMA director Michael Govan. “The context has changed,” he says.
Read more in my first post on the NEW ARTnews blog!
THE J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM, LOS ANGELES. JOINTLY ACQUIRED BY THE J. PAUL GETTY TRUST AND THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART. PARTIAL GIFT OF THE ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE FOUNDATION; PARTIAL PURCHASE WITH FUNDS PROVIDED BY THE DAVID GEFFEN FOUNDATION AND THE J. PAUL GETTY TRUST. ©ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE FOUNDATION.
"I went into photography because it seemed like the perfect vehicle for commenting on the madness of today’s existence." - Robert Mapplethorpe
Blue Rose is a quintessential example of Robert Mapplethorpe’s exquisite flower studies.
Work Experience Evaluation
This year I have explored a wide range of work experience activities. I wished to not concentrate on a single genre but cast my net wide to help me understand the differing challenges and help me develop my own skills before deciding on any specialism.
One genre that fascinates me is Fashion photography – this is an area where each aspect is critical to get right; from the staging to the lighting to the selection of the right model to the selection of the clothing. I don’t believe any other area of photography demands such an attention to detail and ultimately this is for commercial success! I want to further my study of fashion photography, as it is a huge, vibrant and exciting industry that I would like to be a part of. Not least with the wish to become financially independent in my own right!
My current main interest is documentary photography. My ambition for my future career is to become a documentary photographer, hopefully exhibiting around the world. However I would like also like a foot in the fashion/commercial industry. I accept this paradigm seems exceptionally hard to achieve, but some photographers have obtained success in more than one area.
I have an ambition to become a lecturer teaching the subject I love, and I feel to succeed at this I should widen my experience within photography to cover all areas so I could give the best service I can to potential students.
This year, I decided I wanted to try and be more ambitious and find opportunities from outside of Portsmouth. Ideally I would have liked to have travelled abroad – especially to further solidify my documentary ambitions - but my contacts are limited and finances constrained. I have had very little foreign travel in my life, but I do believe a stranger in a strange land sees things that the locals take for granted and do not see. One day I will achieve this! As my prime focus was Fashion, I decided to concentrate on London as one of the Fashion Capitals of the World alongside Paris, Milan, New York and very few others.
Gaining work experience has been difficult but I have spent much effort in building my social networks; I have been very successful in finding ‘friends’ within the industry who have helped me with words of advice and support. Social Networking allows for almost instant real time communication and is a perfect platform to show and share work. Emails, letters and phone calls have not been a successful way of contacting people as no relationship is developed nor fostered.
I started contacting photographers, companies, and magazines to gain work experience. Each photographer has his or her style. Each magazine and company has their target customer base and specific interests. I was careful to only contact those with whom I felt a connection and where I was interested in their work.
I wanted to be ambitious and experience all aspects of fashion photography. I messaged companies to direct my own fashion shoot to experience the pressure and control that is required – I realised this was probably over ambitious and unlikely to succeed as I am an unpublished student. I contacted people within magazines to gain an understanding about how they work and perhaps more importantly, why they work. I wanted to assist a fashion shoot to experience it through the eyes of another photographer and gain the experience of seeing them work in their natural environment, whilst helping in any way possible.
By contacting people in London I aimed to gain professional experiences with people published in the industry. I feel extremely lucky to have received the opportunity to work with all these different creative people. They were all so supportive and took time to help me and develop my skills; I did not feel like a lowly ‘runner’ but part of the team actually contributing to the final result.
My first work experience job was arranging a photoshoot with Nikki the director of Glamragzz. This was a long process that took several weeks to get the right ideas, clothes, MUA, models etc. Yet again, the Social Networking sites were invaluable as virtual-meetings could be arranged and ad-hoc conversations held. I feel through producing my own fashion shoots in the studio I have gained new skills such as being a leader, having the ability to delegate tasks to others, and work as a team to complete a task.
From photographing Miss.Deadly.Red I believe I have developed more of an understanding about directing a model into poses and postures that help make the body stand out and accentuate the fashion aspects. This has also helped build my confidence whilst working with a model. I also listened to her opinion, yet the final decisions were mine. No doubt that some models are considered to be ‘difficult’ to work with, but I have not yet experienced this.
I feel from assisting Claudia I have gained more of an understanding regarding retouching and fashion lighting. I have had the opportunity to direct the models and come up with poses. This has given me huge confidence in communication with models.
Whilst assisting Claudia I have benefited as I have seen qualities in her work that I wouldn’t have thought about using in my own work and also techniques in the studio. I’ve learnt it’s always best to be prepared for the unexpected and gain from it and use what is available to advantage; David Bailey is quoted as saying “the vase does not need to be moved, the camera does”. Also being more creative with lighting in the studio.
I was lucky to have the opportunity with Magdalena Bieth as she is currently published internationally in various magazines and websites across the world.
I feel every work experience has been valuable and I’ve taken new skills from each one of them, but working with Magdalena has been the most valuable as I’ve experienced knowledge from an industry professional. I’ve gained further contacts in the professional industry from this work experience. The ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ theory is something I need to further develop through Facebook, LinkedIn etc.
My first planned shoot with Magdalena did not go to plan! The team met in London yet the model did not turn up – Cameras, Lights… No Action! So the day was cancelled and I found myself in London with no plan. This was at the time when unrest was developing in the Ukraine and I discovered that a protest was planned at the Russian embassy on the West side of Hyde Park.
I rushed across London hoping for some good documentary photos of the demonstration and excited that I would be capturing images of an event that would perhaps become part of history. The event was packed, noisy and disorganised and a little fraught with emotions running high. The news media were there in force and it was difficult to find a good position from which to shoot and when I tried I was stopped by the police. I said the first thing that came into my head – “PRESS” – and they let me through!
I am glad to say the second planned shoot with Magdalena and the team went to plan!
I am proud to say that Magdalena was impressed with my work and ethos and as a result of this she has offered me a role on the magazine as a designer. I will be working alongside her, designing parts of the magazine and doing tear sheets for the contributors using InDesign. This is a fantastic opportunity for me and a brilliant start of doing true work while at University.
Emma - Ginger Snap Model Agency
Photographed by Nathan Klein (Nathan Smith).
Designer - ANA Fashion Art
MUA - Luka Watabe
Hairstylist - The Hair Room London - By Kartee Munusamy
I had the opportunity of talking with Luca Mersa over Skype. Luca is a young Italian retoucher. At just the age of 16! He’s super talented, yet so young! I love his style of retouching as it’s simple, natural, and beautiful.
Through talking over Skype, Luca gave me some tips when it comes to retouching. I also got the opportunity to watch him edit his images. It’s really interesting watching a retoucher do their thing!
Every person does it a different way. From getting in contact with this retoucher I have widen my knowledge of retouching which is a key factor within fashion photography.
I now know how to doge and burn correctly in a high fashion style, FS, and other useful skills within photoshop CS6.
Work Experience - Assisting Claudia
Behind the scene images