There are a few things you will already know about Sofia Coppola; she wrote Lost in Translation, was the first American woman to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival with Somewhere and was the woman behind the Dior commercial for Miss Dior Chérie which she shot in Paris with Maryna Linchuk. Then there are the things you may not know about Sofia Coppola, which you probably should. She grew up on the sets of Francis Ford’s films and even appeared as a baby boy in the christening scene of The Godfather. After partnering with Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon on her clothing line Milk Fed (sold exclusively in Japan), Coppola must have got a taste for collaboration as since then she has worked with Robert Wilson, Hedi Slimane and The White Stripes. Her latest project sees Coppola take the role of curator of a new Robert Mapplethorpe exhibiton at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris.
This exhibition uses the same approach as Robert Mapplethorpe: Eye to Eye curated by American artist Cindy Sherman in New York in 2003 for the Sean Kelly Gallery and Robert Mapplethorpe: Curated by David Hockney , which was presented at Alison Jacques Gallery, London in 2005. The idea is to have a contemporary artist bring his or her take on an œuvre as significant as that of Robert Mapplethorpe’s.
Coppola selected the images from The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation in New York, with whom the gallery has collaborated for this exhibition. By using rarely seen and little-known images taken by Mapplethorpe, Coppola has created an exhibition very much in step with her world. Always inspired by images, the director uses photographs to orient the visual concept of her films. She draws inspiration from images pulled from magazines, taken by iconic photographers, and even snapped with her own camera. Whether done consciously or not, from a single glimpse of the photographic ensemble, the viewer could easily imagine the photos to be a mood board for a future film. However, there is no “narrative” that weaves the selection of images together: the viewer has the freedom to invent fictional characters within the nuances of gray.
Coppola has extracted gentle images from Robert Mapplethorpe’s archive: contemplative moments from which a delicate tension emerges. Known for his erotic and provocative images and the metaphysical nature he often imbues his subject matters with, the viewer is able to discover an almost unexplored side of the artist.
Robert Mapplethorpe, 25/11/2011 – 07/01/2012, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, 7 Rue Debelleyme, Paris, France. +331 4272 9900. www.ropac.net
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Lisa Lyon (1982)
Annabelle’s Mother (1978)
Katherine Cebrian (1980)
Paloma Picasso (1980)
All Mapplethorpe Works © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission. Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris/Salzburg.