Legacy: The Emily Fisher Landau Collection Audio Guide Playlist
This audio guide, introduced by Alice Pratt Brown Director Adam D. Weinberg, highlights a diverse range of works from the exhibition Legacy: The Emily Fisher Landau Collection. Artists John Baldessari, Gregory Crewdson, Eric Fischl, Jasper Johns, Glenn Ligon, and Mark Tansey provide additional commentary.
NARRATOR: Robert Mapplethorpe made numerous self-portraits, assuming different personalities—rocker, cross-dresser, and devil. In this stark and foreboding self-image, the artist confronts death. The picture was made in 1988, after Mapplethorpe was diagnosed with AIDS. His black shirt merges with the black background so that his head and hand seem to float, mysteriously unattached to a body. His face is subtly blurred, leaving the skull atop his cane in sharp focus. Tightly gripping the cane, gazing directly out of the picture, Mapplethorpe appears strong and resolute in the face of his imminent death.
This portrait showcases the qualities that made Mapplethorpe’s photographs so powerful. The image is precise, tightly focused, and displays a rich range of blacks, whites, and grays. He explained, “I am obsessed with beauty. I want everything to be perfect.” Mapplethorpe brought this rigorous, classical approach to all of his subjects: nudes, flowers, portraits, and sexually explicit, homoerotic images.
This last subject matter launched an emotional public debate over censorship and the role of federal funding for the Arts funding during the 1980s. This controversy played out on the floors of congress and ultimately led to the cancellation of a Mapplethorpe exhibition funded by the National Endowment for the Arts at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. It also led to the 1990 obscenity trial of the director of Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, which hosted this show’s tour. The Whitney Museum mounted a major Mapplethorpe retrospective in the summer of 1988, around the time that he made this photograph. The artist died in 1989.
- 400 Introduction to Legacy: The Emily Fisher Landau Collection
- 401 Ed Ruscha, The Act of Letting a Person into Your Home, 1983
- 402 Andy Warhol, Portrait of Emily Fisher Landau, 1984
- 403 Willem de Kooning, (no title), 1987
- 404 Cy Twombly, Untitled, 1964/84
- 405 Richard Prince, Man Crazy Nurse #3, 2003
- 406 Mark Tansey, Valley of Doubt, 1990
- 407 Andy Warhol, Myths, 1981
- 408 Agnes Martin, This Rain, 1960
- 409 Carl Andre, GAZETTEER, 1960
- 410 Rodney Graham, Oak, Banford, 1990
- 411 Allen Ruppersberg, The Gift and the Inheritance (Strive and Succeed), 1989
- 412 John Baldessari, What This Painting Aims To Do, 1967
- 413 Joseph Kosuth, Titled (Art as Idea as Idea), [self], 1967
- 414 Nan Goldin, Self-Portrait with Milagro, the Lodge, Belmont, MA 1988, 1988
- 415 Peter Hujar, Divine, 1975
- 416 Robert Mapplethorpe, Self-Portrait, 1988
- 417 Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled (Love Letter from the War Front), 1988
- 418 Glenn Ligon, Son of a Role Model, 1990/91
- 419 Gregory Crewdson, Untitled (beckoning bus driver), 2001–02
- 420 Neil Jenney, Threat and Sanctuary, 1969
- 421 Eric Fischl, Emptying of the Estuary, 1993
- 422 Jenny Holzer, Under a Rock: You Spit on Them, 1989
- 423 Jasper Johns, Painting with Two Balls, 1971
- 424 Jasper Johns, Untitled, 1988
- 425 Keith Haring, Untitled, 1985