Mapplethorpe’s Penises

Self Portrait, 1980
Self Portrait, 1980 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
With any good luck that title caught your attention. With any bad luck, it turned you off and you have not even read this far before turning away.
The Ludwig Museum of Modern Art is hosting a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition. I have been a Mapplethorpe fan for decades. He only used black and white, but the compositions are so amazing in their simplicity that you have to stare for some time to get the true appreciation of his art form. I went to see the exhibit today.
Mapplethorpe started his photography with a Polaroid camera creating collages. Some of these collages were on display in association with Patti Smith, his lifelong friend. Having the Polaroids intact was an amazing feat considering the technology of the time and the emulsion of Polaroid prints. Throughout the exhibit the commentary is in both Hungarian and English. There are enough references to his enjoyment of photographing deviant sexual acts that it makes it extra curious there are none of this work on display, nor are there any Mapplethorpe books other than the exhibit and a biography. There are however, a flock penis photos adorning the walls. That said, once the “Oh my gosh, that is a penis” moment has passed, you realize the symmetry involved in the pose of the model, the positioning, the flow. 
When you move on to the photos of flowers, you will see the same themes emerging to capture your attention, replacing a body with a penis with a vase of tulips. The man was genius. We have seen a smaller exhibition of his work in Dresden or Berlin, I cannot remember. Here they have 200 of his works on display. 

Aside from the wall displays, something else caught my eye. There were two young men, if I had to guess, I would say not older than 25 years old. They were walking hand in hand throughout the exhibit. When I heard them speaking, it was Spanish, not Hungarian. What a delightful, joyful addition to the show.

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