From the Catalogue: Mapplethorpe's Venini Collection

The following five lots previously belonged to the iconic photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. A collector with wide-ranging interests within the decorative arts and design, he began collecting glass in the early 1980s and amassed a collection, primarily of Venini, which he displayed in a colorful rainbow formation on a shelf in his home. 

Belying the bold colors of the collection, Mapplethorpe would sometimes employ vases from his collection of glass and ceramics to photograph his black and white floral still lifes. A large number of works in his Venini collection were executed in inciso, a technique in which glass is wheel-carved with fine, horizontal lines. In Mapplethorpe’s photographs, the carved glass diffuses the light, lending a translucent, soft image of the flower stems contained within the vase, which contrasts with the clarity of the exposed blossoms. 

Shortly after Mapplethorpe’s untimely death at the age of 42 in 1989, his collection was sold at auction to benefit the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, supporting AIDS research as well as photography exhibitions and projects. The works shown here were purchased at this auction and have been held privately since, making their first appearance on the market in 27 years.

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