Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures

Robert Mapplethorpe

Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures (film still), 2016. 1h, 48 min., digital, colour, sound. ©Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.


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Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures

February 8-11, 2017
Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario
Mapplethorpe Trailer

Directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato . Courtesy of HBO Canada. Not Rated, for ages 18+

“Look at the pictures.” With these words, American politician Jesse Helms denounced the work of one of the most influential photographers of the twentieth century, Robert Mapplethorpe (1946 – 1989). Twenty-five years later, the first and most complete documentary about the artist since his death, by acclaimed directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, does just that, with unprecedented unlimited access to his archives and work.

The most prominent voice in the documentary is Mapplethorpe's own. Thanks to a number of rediscovered interviews, he is our narrator. Completely candid, shockingly honest, he speaks about his life, loves, and work. Seen through his eyes, they were a seamless whole, a complete work of art.

The result is a portrait of the artist who dedicated his life not only to becoming an artist but also to making his chosen medium, photography, respected and valued as a fine art. And he succeeded; His final show, The Perfect Moment, self-planned as he was dying of AIDS-related illness, proved to be a time bomb, igniting a culture war that still reverberates today.

2016, 1h, 48 min.

“A candid, often shocking documentary portrait of the great photographer Robert Mapplethorpe” — Time Out

“Beautiful and clear-eyed documentary” ★★★★  — Owen Gleiberman, BBC

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