Robert Mapplethorpe, ‘Le Serpentine/Spartacus’, circa 1971, Sotheby's
Robert Mapplethorpe, ‘Le Serpentine/Spartacus’, circa 1971, Sotheby's
Robert Mapplethorpe, ‘Le Serpentine/Spartacus’, circa 1971, Sotheby's

Robert Mapplethorpe: Objects of Desire, Important Works from the Collection of David Croland

Accompanied by a postcard from the photographer to David Croland (2).

Approximately 3 1/2 by 2 1/2 in. (8.9 by 6.4 cm.)

From the Catalogue:
‘Robert and I met on a hot, steamy New York City afternoon at the Hotel Chelsea over Memorial Day weekend in 1970. Our mutual friend Tinkerbelle introduced us. Robert was living with his girlfriend Patti Smith. Patti was in the room when we met that day. The room was smaller than your foot. The four of us stood there observing each other observe each other. I was used to being objectified. Always, in all ways. Within a week, Robert and I were lovers’ – David Croland

The exceptional early photographs and unique objects by Robert Mapplethorpe offered in Lots 215 to 221 come from the personal collection of model and artist David Croland. During their relationship from 1970 to 1973, Croland served as both muse and support, posing before Mapplethorpe’s camera and introducing the young artist to curators and his many influential friends in the world of fashion and art.

Early collages, jewelry, and works on paper by the photographer are rare. Most are preserved in institutional collections, notably at the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The well-maintained pieces from Croland’s collection represent the full range of Mapplethorpe’s creative vision from this early period and have never before been offered at auction.
—Courtesy of Sotheby's

Edmund White, Mapplethorpe: Altars (New York, 1995), pp. 20-1
Sylvia Wolf, Polaroids: Mapplethorpe (New York, 2007), pl. 131

Acquired from the photographer, circa 1971

About Robert Mapplethorpe

In the 1970s, Robert Mapplethorpe and musician, poet, and artist Patti Smith lived together in New York’s infamous Chelsea Hotel where he started shooting Polaroids to use in his collages. Drawn to photography, Mapplethorpe got a Hasselblad medium-format camera and began taking pictures of his friends and acquaintances—artists, musicians, socialites, pornographic film stars, and members of the gay S & M underground. Despite his shocking content, Mapplethorpe was a formalist, interested in composition, color, texture, balance, and, most of all, beauty. In the 1980s, he concentrated on studio photography, specifically nudes, flowers, and formal portraits that are considerably more refined than his earlier work. After Mapplethorpe died from an AIDS-related illness, his work precipitated national controversy when it was included in “The Perfect Moment,” a traveling exhibition funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

American, 1946-1989, Queens, New York, based in New York, New York