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Robert Mapplethorpe
Gardenia

1978

About the Item

Robert Mapplethorpe earned his place in the canon from his incredible output of images that ranged from beautiful to brutal. Mapplethorpe was one of the key artists who helped elevate photography from image-making to fine art. Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) fearlessly depicted the body (his own, friends' and lovers') in a way that positioned his work in line with masters such as Reubens, Courbet and Eadweard Muybridge to mention a few. Despite the sometimes shocking content of his work, Mapplethorpe's photographs possess a formalist quality with their undeniable beauty and strict compositions. From 1978-1981, Mapplethorpe created thirty-nine black and white photographs that make up his acclaimed XYZ Portfolios. While each portfolio is a distinct exploration of Mapplethorpe's signature subject matter, when combined, XYZ Portfolios serves as a definitive and in-depth representation of his mature and most sought-after, period. (Of the portfolios, X explores homosexuality and sadomasochism; Y features floral still life; while Z showcases portraits of Black men) Click here to see a portrait from the Z portfolio. In 2012, the XYZ Portfolios were shown in an exhibition at LACMA and presented in three rows (X on top, followed by Y in the middle, and Z below) as Mapplethorpe had envisioned them in 1989. "Gardenia" is one of thirteen images from the Y Portfolio, featuring a fragrant and graphic flower. Shot overhead, this tranquil image captures a delicate flower subtly floating in a dark, contrasting bowl. Aside from the flower's shadow below, the still water is nearly inconspicuous, contributing to the air of grace and elegance that this piece evokes. While the depiction is straightforward, Mapplethorpe's contrasts lead to a more ambiguous image; is this actually a flower or some alien specimen being examined? This powerful black and white image is a prime example of Mapplethorpe's work, highlighting his studio-centric practice as well as his refined and meticulous printing. This is a rare opportunity to acquire an iconic work by one of the most influential photographers of the 20th Century. Caviar20 is proud to be offering this monumental and important piece. "Gardenia" USA, 1978 Gelatin silver print Signed in ink by Michael Ward Stout and credited and dated on photographer's estate stamp, mount verso. 13.25"H 12.75"W (image) 16.75"H 16"W (framed) Very good condition Provenance: Xavier Hufkens, Brussels
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