In the programme of exhibitions announced this summer on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of its gallery in Salzburg, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac is delighted to announce an exhibition of works by legendary American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The gallery has invited French actress Isabelle Huppert to curate the exhibition. This is the latest in a series of exhibitions devoted to Robert Mapplethorpe that have been curated by artists such as Cindy Sherman, David Hockney, theatre director Bob Wilson and, in 2011, film director Sofia Coppola. The idea is to offer the public a different and more personal take on his work.
The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, which is based in New York, gave Isabelle Huppert free access to its inventory. She has selected over a hundred works, mixing emblematic photos with snapshots and little-known, sometimes unpublished Polaroids.
In exploring the vast range of subjects tackled by Mapplethorpe, Isabelle Huppert gave free rein to her sensibility. One has the impression that she selected her photos the way one meets people in life. Her choices reflect a fondness for mixing the unusual with the timelessness of beauty, the flavour of the moment, the immutability of silence. She places sublime nudes, whose lighting brings out the perfect contours of the bodies (Ken Moody, 1985 in colour), beside more natural, or very elaborate, shots of Lisa Lyon (Lisa Lyon, 1982), the photographer's favourite female model. And she brings floral still-lifes with a motionless purity of line (Calla Lily, 1986) into juxtaposition with an almost Proustian bouquet (Tulips, 1988) and portraits of staring, melancholic women.
Naturally affected by beauty, Isabelle Huppert's selection of these often unexplored images creates a poetic atmosphere of mysterious softness.
As Isabelle Huppert herself admitted, "I look at each Robert Mapplethorpe photo as if I were reading a poem. In the ones I have chosen, his way of seeing the world is pent with softness – and silence. They are silent photos. In that particular world that he made his own, everything is connected. He blurred the frontiers, merged the mobile and the immobile. His flowers are alive, almost human, and his bodies are frozen in their eternal beauty. Each photo is pure emotion. In each one of them there is a perfection of form, the delicacy and mystery of light and shade. Robert Mapplethorpe, the photographer poet."