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“Robert loved art books, especially large-format coffee-table books, which he absorbed rather than read,” writes musician, writer, and artist Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe’s late-60s lover and longtime friend. “We had books on surrealism, Marcel Duchamp, tantric art, erotic art, abstract expressionism, and Michelangelo that we perused time and again, always discovering something new. He used to dream of having such a book of his own one day. It both delights and saddens me to see the magnificent books produced since his death that are emblazoned with the name MAPPLETHORPE on the covers, fulfilling his early dreams.”

Add to those magnificent books two more: Robert Mapplethorpe: The Archive, published by the Getty Research Institute, and Robert Mapplethorpe: The Photographs, published by The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. They evolved from research on holdings from the Mapplethorpe Foundation that were given to LACMA and the Getty institutions in 2011. And they arrive in conjunction with exhibits of the artist’s work at LACMA and the Getty, and with Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s HBO documentary, Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures.

Extract from a text by Alexander C. Kafka