Robert Mapplethorpe Art, Archive Bound for L.A.

Sorry New York, but Los Angeles is the new home of all things Mapplethorpe. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the J. Paul Getty Trust have jointly acquired art and archival materials by or associated with Robert Mapplethorpe, who died in 1989 at the age of 42. Cash from the David Geffen Foundation and the Getty supplemented a gift from the Mapplethorpe Foundation that accounts for most of the acquisition (valued at $30 million or so). So what did they get? Around 2,000 works of art by Mapplethorpe, including a print of virtually every photograph he editioned in silver gelatin, a large number of Polaroid works and unique works, artworks by his contemporaries and the most extensive documentation of his career, including personal correspondence with the likes of Patti Smith and curator-turned-collector Sam Wagstaff, whose own photography holdings the Getty acquired in 1984. “Both Mapplethorpe and Wagstaff contributed greatly to the field of photography, and adding Mapplethorpe’s work to Wagstaff’s collection is a fitting tribute to them both,” said David Bomford, acting director of the Getty Museum, in a statement issued Monday. “The acquisition also supports our philosophy of collecting individual artists in depth, so the chance to share a substantial part of Mapplethorpe’s oeuvre with LACMA is a wonderful opportunity for us.” This is the first time LACMA and the Getty have teamed up on an acquisition. A collaborative series of Mapplethorpe exhibitions is planned.