Los Angeles Pride partnered with The Getty Museum to host a closing reception for the exhibit "Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium" . I was so excited to be invited to an art event in Los Angeles, because I love art, and I haven't felt very synced up with the art community here. I'm not very well-versed in art history or technique, but I love to look at art. I went with my friend Thisbe, who has two masters in the art field, so I had a tour guide of my own!
The Perfect Medium
Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) was a prolific photographer during the 1960s and 1970s. He produced dramatic black and white portraits and a collection of photography focused on the BDSM scene of the 70s. He died of AIDS, and the Mapplethorpe Foundation has carried on his legacy. The Getty Research Institute possesses a lot of his work in their collection.
The exhibition closing event featured remarks from the curator, Paul Martineau. He said, "I don't do this for the critics. I do it for all of you." That was a nice reminder that though art can seem stuffy at times, it's really meant for the general public to enjoy.
Mapplethorpe's BDSM work was on display laying flat in a case. The photos were actually shocking even to me, though I have been to Folsom Street Fair and Dorey Alley in San Francisco (two famous BDSM festivals). There were some very intense displays of BDSM acts in progress – ropes and muzzles, etc. The most shocking photo to me was a pinky lodged partway up a man's pee hole! I can see how this set of work must have been very controversial when it was released.
But I think it's wonderful when art shocks or surprises the viewer. Art has the power to teach and to make us less close minded. When we see art that isn't explained to us, our brain is forced to think harder and interpret what it sees.
LA Pride, under leadership of Chris Classen, aims to continue with art events. I'm looking forward to what's next.
If you haven't been to the Getty and live in Los Angeles, you must go. Though the Mapplethorpe exhibit is no longer on display, they have so much fantastic modern art. On top of that, the grounds and modernist architecture are breathtaking. To my eyes, it looks like a place where Lady Gaga would live.
Nooks and lookouts make it possible to escape the crowds and have some quiet moments. Impressive vistas show a beautiful panorama of Los Angeles – from Santa Monica to Downtown. They also have great nighttime events throughout the summer, including live music.
The museum is on a hilltop so it's separated from the parking lot by a tram. To get back down after the event, Thisbe suggested we walk along the trail, which was a great idea. We joked about the rushing sound of the 405 interstate being a Los Angeles version of soothing "ocean noises".
Two things in summary: 1) As a gay man, going to an exhibit about a gay artist is so deeply meaningful. It's part of our cultural history. 2) I never regret it when I leave my apartment to go see some art!