The Cube is a series of photographs derived from photographer Ansel Adams' Lighting a Cube exercise that was featured in his seminal book The Negative (1981). A follow-up to his 2008 installation TimeZones Mapplethorpe built a symmetrical three-sided cube and implemented Adams' prescribed lighting technique to represent and photograph the ten tones that comprise the grayscale zone system. This project is a continuation of Mapplethorpe's experimentation with photographic processes.
details: The Cube No. 1197, 2016 The Cube No. 1204, 2016 The Cube No. 1203, 2016 The Cube No. 1201, 2016 The Cube No. 1200, 2016 The Cube No. 1206, 2016
Mapplethorpe’s most recent body of work continues his push to deconstruct the traditional black and white photographic processes with the debut of digital technology in his practice.
As with earlier bodies of work, the camera has been completely removed from the equation. Similarly, the artist has done away with the traditional darkroom format and has devised his own process whereby gelatin silver prints are created in light. He applies and paints colorless chemicals on to gelatin silver paper and allows the elements to react to ambient white light. The resulting unique images are rich with a myriad of color tonalities.
Mapplethorpe then drum scans the unique images and digitally collages them to be output as archival pigment prints on paper. In this way he joins two very distinct photographic processes: one based in alchemy and the other in technology. This combination has facilitated a more refined definition to the final artwork.
Panels of monochromatic color are an added component to the artwork. The chosen colors of these panels are selected from tones found within the archival pigment print
The Variations challenge the notion of traditional black and white photography with unique gelatin silver prints that highlight a myriad of color tonalities. To achieve these vigorous compositions Mapplethorpe utilizes a chemical process that translates to "color by light scattering" whereby colorless chemicals are applied onto traditional black and white photographic paper. Time and chance elements remain important aspects of the process. The Variations were in part inspired by Mapplethorpe's fascination with the classical pianist Glenn Gould and his iconoclastic re-interpretation of J. S. Bach's Goldberg Variations.
TimeLines combine the gestural impulses of action painting with the mechanical processes of the photographic medium. The artist's use of animal hair as a line-making devise allowed the interaction between control and randomness to reach a new level of complexity in his work. This project comprises unique works solely created in the darkroom without the use of traditional cameras. This series includes unique color chromogenic prints, unique black & white lith prints and a related edition of lithographs.
This body of work is comprised of nine 60x50" silver gelatin prints that precisely represent one tone from black to white of the 'Zone System' (made popular by Ansel Adams (1902 – 1984) in his Basic Photo Series). In many respects, the Zone System is the crucial theoretical element linking the creative process with the craft and technique of traditional photography. Mapplethorpe initially conceived of the idea as a means of showcasing the medium in its' most fundamental way after accepting the probability that this photographic method could one day be obsolete.
details: Zone I, 2008 Zone III, 2008 Zone V, 2008 Zone VII, 2008 Zone, IX, 2008
In 2004, Mapplethorpe was approached by the art director Yoshiki Takeuchi and Shiseido la Beauté to collaborate on a project using Yoichi Nagasawa's fantastic hair garments as his source material. The resulting works were created in the darkroom without the use of camera devices. These images literally transpose hair from the head to paper, creating a visceral trace of the body.
details: HAIR transfer No. 923, 2004 HAIR transfer No. 922, 2004 HAIR transfer No. 921, 2004 HAIR transfer No. 925, 2004 HAIR transfer No. 918, 2004
In 2003, New York-based Eos Orchestra commissioned Mapplethorpe to create a limited edition portfolio of twelve portraits commemorating their eighth season. This project encapsulated Mapplethorpe's longstanding admiration for musicians with his preoccupation with time and movement. The Eos portraits were featured at the Orchestra's debut Image/Sound/Image at Carnegie Hall in November 2003.
The Compositions series, created from 1999-2002 are abstractions created with the artist's own hand drawn negatives. These 'positive' negatives are enlarged onto photographic paper, blurring the division between drawing and photography.
"Each image included in Portfolio II has been appropriated from periodicals from my youth and manipulated to give a surreal and voyeuristic quality. Presented in a manner more accustomed to high art, each is meant to challenge the viewer's common encounter with this subject matter."
Transmographs (coined from the words "photograph" and "transmogrify") are portraits and floral studies photographed through large blocks of cut and manipulated ice. Through the passage of time each subject's visage moves and shifts creating a myriad of characters. Here the artist continues his use of water as a filter to allow for a range of imagery from graphic and illustrative to sculptural and surreal.
Following the Undercurrents series, the artist continued his experimentation with movement and time through his deconstruction of the American flag. The resulting imagery transforms this iconic object— shifting us away from the flag's emblematic beauty and replacing it with an abstract field of captured light and movement.
details: American Flag No. 515, 1994 American Flag No. 519, 1994 American Flag No. 520, 1994 American Flag No. 526, 1994 American Flag No. 513, 1994
Mr. Maxey's pictures are a kind of turbulent, watery answer to Alfred Steiglitz's "Equivalents".
- Vicki Goldberg (Sunday New York Times, Feb. 21, 1993)
Beginning in 1992 the artist began working under the surface of the ocean to create still life compositions and landscapes. Working under the pseudonym Edward Maxey, this series marked the first time Mapplethorpe consciously sought to achieve abstracted compositions. The surface studies are the artist's first attempts at bridging the gap between painting and photography.
details: Seascape, 1992 Arches, 1993 Surface Study, 1992 The Bank, 1993 Stingray City, 1991
Still Life Compositions
Similar to Mapplethorpe's handling of the nude form, his still life compositions have a signature clarity and symmetry that emphasize the geometric nature of the subject. Present within this period is an early penchant for abstraction, achieved through the artist's structuring of the image so that the resulting image is often seen out of context.
details: Chateau Marmont Interior, 1990 Clouds, 1989 Empire State Building, 1993 Stiletto with Gun, 1990 Christ on Scale, 1991
Mapplethorpe's early representations of the nude form between 1982-1992 embody striking luminosity. In many of the compositions the body becomes a platform for the artist to experiment with elements of light, movement, and time; essentially sculpting the form through shadow and geometry. As a result, the body often takes on semblances of architecture or the landscape. Traces of this early experimentation can be seen throughout later bodies of work.
"The portraits are at first glance slick and luminous, but underneath is an honesty that belies their rich surface. His portraits and nudes are concerned with beauty but contain a warmth and generosity of spirit that does not equate perfection with beauty. The works distinctly translate sculptural qualities into a two dimensional format and are brought to life by Maxey's exquisite printing."
- James Danziger (1990)
details: Annie Lennox, 1989 Naomi Campbell & Isaac Hayes, 1990 Harry Lunn, 1989 Melody, 1988 Joie Lee, 1990