In 2016, Robert Mapplethorpe, who died in 1989, seemed more alive than ever: His life was turned into a hit documentary, and his work could be found everywhere from two exhibitions, at both the Getty and LACMA, to an in-demand collection by Raf Simons. But in 2019, the whispers that accompanied the late photographer's resurgence have grown into a roar—to the point that New York's Guggenheim Museum divided its year-long Mapplethorpe exhibition into two parts: the controversy Mapplethorpe generated during his lifetime, and the controversy Mapplethorpe's legacy has generated since his death. The latter, which opened this week, reconsiders the works of Mapplethorpe's surveyed in the first, spanning from his still-lifes to the eroticism that put him at the center of censorship debates. This time around, Mapplethorpe has company: His work is now exhibited alongside that of self-portraitists such as Zanele Muholi, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, and Catherine Opie, whose intersectional approach to queer representation stands in stark contrast to Mapplethorpe's exoticized objectification of bodies that so often belonged to black men. Take a look inside the show, here.
Originally Appeared on W