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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mapplethorpe, Wagstaff and Smith revisited

Posted By on Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 2:39 PM

Last year, singer Patti Smith released Just Kids, a memoir about the friendship/relationship she had with Robert Mapplethorpe. In the late 1960s, she moved to New York from Philadelphia and met the later famous and infamous photographer. (Earlier this year, she donated photos she took, including one of Mapplethorpe, to NOMA.) While they were living together, Mapplethorpe met curator Sam Wagstaff, who was twice his age, but the two started a relationship that bridged the generation gap as well as his family's wealth and Mapplethorpe's upbringing in working-class Queens, N.Y., and his more closeted life with one of thrill-seeking S&M sex (a common subject in the photographer's work). The odd couple was at the center of the New York art scene during an iconic period from the 1970s through the late 1980s, when both of them died of AIDS. Jack Crump's film Black White and Gray takes its name from a minimalist, startling-to-the-art-world show Wagstaff curated. Smith is a major presence in the film, and she reflects on her life in a trio of friendship with the two. It also examines ways in which Wagstaff and Mapplethorpe helped each other's careers. The New Orleans Film Society presents the film at the CAC tonight at 7:30 p.m.

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