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Photo © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation e Archivi Alinari – Archivio von Gloeden, Firenze
Photo © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation e Archivi Alinari – Archivio von Gloeden, Firenze

“Beauty and Desire”


A dialogue between the works of Mapplethorpe and von Gloeden at the Museo del Novecento in Florence

Until February 14, 2024, the Museo del Novecento in Florence pays tribute to two great artists with a dialogue between their respective works centered on the themes of beauty and desire.

On display are the shots of Robert Mapplethorpe (New York, 1946 - Boston, 1989), one of the most important exponents of the art of twentieth-century photography, in an unprecedented and original comparison with pictures by Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden (Wismar, 1856 - Taormina, 1931), among the pioneers of staged photography and a suggestive reference for Mapplethorpe, a passionate collector of photography and connoisseur of the baron's work.

The exhibition highlights Robert Mapplethorpe's connection with classicism, his sculptural approach to photography, in which a particular interest in the work of Michelangelo is also recognized (thanks in part to the photographs taken by the Alinari brothers), and his study of the male and female nude.
His work is compared with some photographs dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries from the Alinari Archives, in particular some images by Wilhelm von Gloeden, whose compositions and atmospheres hark back to the past, an inexhaustible reservoir of subjects and suggestions.

Mapplethorpe's and von Gloeden's photographs, both inspired by the canons of classicism, seem to lead along aesthetic trajectories that are not taken for granted and at times perturbing, raising and resolving questions on the subject of the body and sexuality.
Despite the century that separates them, the comparison highlights the presence of common themes, spanning time to the present day, food for thought on current events, art, morality, spirituality, in constant relationship, change and evolution.