Robert Mapplethorpe: A Season in Hell / Opening and Performance by Patti Smith

If she ever wondered how many people fit into her gallery space, now Alison Jacques knows. The opening of the current exhibition Robert Mapplethorpe: A Season in Hell reminded visitors more of a Guinnes Book World Record attempt than a vernissage. The reason for this rush was obviously the announcement that the American singer-songwriter and artist Patti Smith would perform at the opening.

VernissageTV captured the event in this video, which is a short version of the full-length version that is available below. In addition to the exhibition, the video shows Patti Smith performing her song “Because the Night” in an a capella version with support from the audience.

Robert Mapplethorpe: A Season in Hell brings together a range of works in a variety of media, including rarely seen collages. For the first time in a European gallery, 5 major early works are on display, a series of collages from 1968-69 when Robert Mapplethorpe was living with Patti Smith at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City.

“Drawing on the Catholic culture of his upbringing, Mapplethorpe was inspired to make shrine-like works out of a broad range of materials, from men’s underwear to prayer cards. However these works, both formally and substantially, become transformed more into objects of fetish than images of devotion, revealing the incessant influence of his religious background on Mapplethorpe’s life and art, and his irreverent and rebellious relationship to it. As Mapplethorpe himself said ‘A church has a certain magic and mystery for a child…. It still shows in how I arrange things. It’s always little altars.’ … Later in his career Mapplethorpe became more renowned for his photography, yet the themes of Heaven and Hell, the sacrehis work.” (Excerpt from the press release).

Robert Mapplethorpe: A Season in Hell / Opening and Performance by Patti Smith. Alison Jacques Gallery, London / UK. October 13, 2009.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.

Full-length version (33:58 Min.):