On my way to this exhibition, I was reading that a new book – “Somebody to Love: The Life, Death and Legacy of Freddie Mercury” – is about to be published.
It will contain never seen before images of the singer, shared by those closest to him.
Had he not died of AIDS related complications, Freddie Mercury would have been seventy years old this year. Robert Mapplethorpe too.
Despite them frequenting the same clubs – The Saint in the East Village and Mineshaft in the Meatpacking district to name a few – and knowing that the singer of Queen was very keen on working with talented photographers, it is rather surprising that he was not one of several celebrities immortalised by Mapplethorpe.
To coincide with what would have been the photographer’s birthday on the 4th of November, the Alison Jacques Gallery, sole representative of Mapplethorpe’s estate in UK, has enlisted the help of German photographer Juergen Teller to curate this new exhibition of 58 images, rarely seen in public before, which span the entirety of his career.
The choice could not be more inspired since the two artists have in common a rather uniquely successful career both in the art world and in commercial photography.
Pièces de résistance are two enlarged photographs pasted directly onto the walls of the gallery. Right by the entrance, the first is a close up of Mapplethorpe’s first boyfriend David Croland wearing a gag. Almost a relay baton passing, it is a tribute to the model and artist who collaborated with the gallery in 2013 for the exhibition ‘Robert Mapplethorpe: Fashion Show’. The second captures the statuesque beauty of model Marty Gibson posing naked on a beach.
Hovewer striking these might be, what steal the show is the choice of modvigil lesser known shots and how they seamlessly come together in this fresh and crisp pictorial dialogue. They remind us, if ever there was any need, that Robert Mapplethorpe remains relevant to this day not just because several of his images are still provocative to many after all these years, but because his attention to details, his rigorous composition and deliberate theatricality are hard to match.
‘Teller on Mapplethorpe’ is at the Alison Jacques Gallery until 07/01/2017.