Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mapplethorpe Polaroids

A decade before Robert Mapplethorpe became known for his large scale photographs of flowers and nudes, he was a student at Parsons who experimented with art based on altars and collage. Soon after he graduated in 1970 he began to use a Polaroid camera to document his artwork, and to use as source material. He then began to see the black and white Polaroids themselves as works of art. During a 5-year period in the early 70's he produced over 1,500 Polaroid photographs, using them to experiment in methods of portraiture as well as still-lifes. Towards the end of that decade he acquired a large-format camera and began to create the work he became famous for.

This show of over 90 Polaroids originated at the Whitney Museum of American Art and is now on view at the Block Museum of Art. It shows how his early explorations with Polaroid film informed his later work. The Block Museum has also recently acquired a selection of color Polaroids by Andy Warhol. Many of these were used by Warhol as the basis of his large silkscreen portraits and are on display as well.

Polaroids: Mapplethorpe
Block Museum of Art
on the Northwestern University Campus
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208

Through April 5, 2009

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