Robert Mapplethorpe at the Ludwig Museum Budapest

Bullet Shih May, 2012 Comments Off on Robert Mapplethorpe at the Ludwig Museum Budapest
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Robert Mapplethorpe at the Ludwig Museum BudapestThe Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition at the Ludwig Museum in Budapest sponsored by the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation provides a balanced overview of his body of work broken down into six distinct groupings: self portraits, male nudes, female nudes, flowers, portraits, statuary.  While Mapplethorpe was a center of controversy in the 80s with his male nudes and alternative gay lifestyle photographs, the current  exhibition while not censoring his more controversial photos also allows the viewer to evaluate the photographer as an artist rather than merely a shock artist.  Separating the calla lilies with their pronounced stigmas  from the male nudes with their erect penises presents his works simply as photos of flowers.  It is in this context that Mapplethorpe can be seen as a competent photographer with an excellent sense of composition and lighting.  In fact, viewed roughly thirty years later, even his controversial male nudes while still evoking a mild shock can be seen as studies emphasizing composition and lighting rather than a conveying a controversial message such as Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ.  I found the overall exhibition fairly subdued based on my previous conceptions of Mapplethorpe as a maelstrom of controvery and lewdness.  This however will likely change with the release of the Mapplethorpe film by  Ondi Timoner featuring James Franco as Robert Mapplethorpe.

Robert Mapplethorpe 2012 May 25 – September 30 at the Ludwig Budapest

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