"Wagstaff: Before and After Mapplethorpe"
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Sam Wagstaff was known conspicuously as the lover, mentor and patron of Robert Mapplethorpe, but that was only the last of his distinctions. In the 1970s, he was instrumental in establishing the art market for photography; he was seminal in elevating photography's status to an art world equal; and his crowning achievement was his photography collection, one of the earliest, which he sold to the J. Paul Getty museum in 1984, launching their collection, now regarded among the finest in the world. Wagstaff was gay, as were a group of notable collectors who followed his lead in collecting photography in the 1970s. Their collections, too, would be acquired by major museums-- the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum. This talk will discuss why these men turned to photography when it was still considered an art world bastard, as well as their significance in bringing art world respect to the medium. it will also describe Robert Mapplethorpe's influence during that period, not only as Wagstaff's lover but, also, as a pioneer who first introduced male nudity and homoerotic imagery in the gallery and museum context.