The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts - Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal is presenting a retrospective on Robert Mapplethorpe's photography and other artistic works. Mapplethorpe was one of the most significant artists of his time. His work has been characterized as controvertial and polarizing. It was seen as particularly challenging when it first came out during the period of conflict between conservatives and reformers in the United States called the Culture Wars in the 1980s and 1990s. This retrospective shows an array of his subjects, including celebrity portraits, male and female nudes, self-portraits, and still-life images of flowers. His highly stylized black and white photographs blurred the lines between life and art. Robert Mapplethorpe Focus: Perfection will be open for visitors until January 22nd.
"He was demonic but not evil, only as demonic as a small deity, mischievous but not without compassion. He was a ray where darkness fell." - Patti Smith describing Robert Mapplethorpe
Mapplethorpe met Lisa Lyon, a world women's bodybuilding champion, at a party in New York City in 1979. They collaborated as photographer and muse for six years following their encounter and created more than 200 photographs depicting Lyons in various guises, ranging from ingenue to dominatrix.
Mapplethorpe thought of the X, Y, and Z Portfolios as his most important works. X in 1978 explored homosexuality and sado-masochism. Y in 1978 depicted flower still lifes. And, Z in 1981 was a collection of portraits of African-American men. The artist's obsession with formal perfection unified the three collections.
Also, currently showing at the MMFA is and exhibition of thirty Canadian and American women photographers called SHE PHOTOGRAPHS. These photographs encompass a varied array of contemporary photographic styles and genres: Conceptual art, auteur photography, tableau form, intimate impressions, the reinvention of the documentary approach, etc. The pieces span the range from straight photography to abstract and covers subjects such as love, death, work, and the sublime. Styles, techniques, emotion, and meaning may differ, however the commonality of a woman's perspective and voice brings this show its collective artistic strength and impact. It will be on display until February 19.