Rijksmuseum acquires 37 Robert Mapplethorpe photographs from three collections

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Rijksmuseum acquires 37 Robert Mapplethorpe photographs from three collections
Self Portrait, 1980. Purchased with the support of the BankGiro Lottery players © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.

AMSTERDAM.- Three collectors have gifted to the Rijksmuseum a total 37 photographs by the American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The impetus for these donations came from the major donation of Mapplethorpe’s work by choreographer Hans van Manen and his partner Henk van Dijk, at the end of 2019. The acquisition of these works means that the Rijksmuseum is now able to present a representative overview of this iconic photographer’s oeuvre. The Rijksmuseum now has 61 Mapplethorpe photographs in its collection.

• Arendt Brinks has transferred 33 Robert Mapplethorpe photographs to the Rijksmuseum. This collection was mostly donated by Arendt Brinks, and partly purchased with the support of BankGiro Lottery players.

• Former gallery owner Bram Volkers donated two Mapplethorpe portraits of him taken while the photographer was visiting Amsterdam.

• Eduard Planting and Marque Joosten have also given the Rijksmuseum two Mapplethorpes, a floral still life and a portrait of Lisa Lyon.

Taco Dibbits: The donation by Hans van Manen and Henk van Dijk marked the start of a chain reaction of gifts that a museum can only dream of. Mapplethorpe had a substantial, international influence on Dutch culture in the 1980s. He loved Amsterdam, visited many times, and made work in the city. Thanks to these gifts, the Rijksmuseum can now do justice to Mapplethorpe’s place in the photographic firmament. We are deeply grateful to Arendt Brinks, Bram Volkers, Eduard Planting and Marque Joosten, Hans van Manen and Henk van Dijk.

Arendt Brinks: I had been considering the future of my collection of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe for a long while, when I heard about the donation made by Hans van Manen and Henk van Dijk. I am heartened by the fact that this collection is in good hands, and will stay together and be preserved for the future. Now, it will be accessible to everyone, forever.

Arendt Brinks’ collection
Arendt Brinks was motivated to transfer the collection to the Rijksmuseum by Hans van Manen and Henk van Dijk’s donation in 2019. The collections have been brought together in the Rijksmuseum, and in the future they will be displayed together. The two collections also complement one another in numerous ways: Arendt Brinks’ Mapplethorpe collection contains a feminine self-portrait and Hans van Manen’s a masculine one, for example. A similar complemental match relates to the X, Y, Z portfolios which Mapplethorpe compiled around 1980: Van Manen and Van Dijk owned works from the Y portfolio, comprising floral still lifes; while Brinks’ collection contained nudes and homoerotic work from the X and Z portfolios. Robert Mapplethorpe also made portraits of Arendt Brink, as he also did of Bram Volkers and Hans van Manen.

Robert Mapplethorpe
American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) started to shoot nudes in the 1970s. He paid no heed to presumed boundaries between the ‘refined nude’ and the portrayal of shocking, hard and explicit gay and SM sex. He depicted his own world, meticulously staging scenes in his studio rather than photographing live on location. Sex and art were not separate worlds to him, and he saw little difference between photographing a flower or a penis. Up to this point, pornographic photos were often somewhat ‘grubby’ and poorly printed, but Mapplethorpe’s photographs are the epitome of technical perfection. This enabled Mapplethorpe to elevate the photography of explicit gay and SM sex from the underworld to the established art and gallery circuit. He was an example to many, including the Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf.

The Rijksmuseum photographic collection
The Rijksmuseum photographic collection comprises 150,000 Dutch and international photographs from the 19th, 20th and 21st century. It is the aim of the museum to be able to present the entire history of photography, encompassing not only acknowledged masterpieces by great photographers, but also the use of photography in the contexts of advertising, fashion, journalism and science. Mapplethorpe’s work is essential to this ambition. The Rijksmuseum photographic collection was formed through the generous support of its partner Baker McKenzie, private benefactors and institutional funds.

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