We discovered the story behind this iconic photo shoot for Interview magazine, which gathered four contemporary art and culture geniuses

We discovered the story behind this iconic photo shoot for Interview magazine, which gathered four contemporary art and culture geniuses

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This is the brief story of a brief historical moment that gathered four great figures of contemporary culture and art. On July 24th of 1984, Grace Jones, along with Keith Haring and Andy Warhol, got together in Robert Mapplethorpe’s studio for a photo shoot for Interview. The studio was located in 24 Bond Street and the session lasted 18 hours. While searching the web for details on this encounter, I only found them through Javier Porto, Mapplethorpe’s Spanish assistant, who was allowed to take pictures of the making off. He collected these images and published them in the 2013 book “Grace, Andy, Keith, Robert and co.”

Why did this encounter happen? It turns out that Grace Jones had released her album “Slave to the Rhythms” and was making her way up the Billboard charts. That’s why Andy Warhol wanted to feature her on Interview magazine. But he didn’t want just any photo… A few years back, Warhol had met Keith Haring and for him, Grace Jones’ body was the perfect canvas for the artist; it had that same characteristic combination between pop and the primitive.

There was always some rivalry between Warhol and Mapplethorpe. Mapplethorpe got to the New York scene later on, and when he was younger he longed to be part of Warhol’s circle, in the infamous backroom of Max Kansas City. He finally made his entrance with his friend Patti Smith, and soon became a cult figure himself, though he never fitted with Andy. This was evident in the 1984 shoot, when according to Porto, Mapplethorpe asked him to turn off the flashes so that Warhol couldn’t take decent photos.

Keith Haring and Grace Jones had been introduced by Warhol a few years before. This was the first time that Haring painted Grace’s sculptural body, but not the last. This event started a series of collaborations. The following year, Grace was painted for her tribal performance in the gay scenes’ mythical club, Paradise Garage (right photo). In 86′ she created a huge skirt, also painted by Haring, for the music video of her song “I’m not perfect (But I’m perfect for you)”. That same year, he paints her for a dance scene in the movie Vamp.

On the other hand, Porto’s side of the story is very interesting. The Spanish spend the best years of the “Movida Madrileña” in the streets, photographing his characters (such as Almodóvar and Carmen Maura). But by 84′ the scene was institutionalizing and he left for New York. A few years ago in Madrid, Mapplethorpe had asked him to be his assistant; the photographer was fascinated by Porto’s beauty and professionalism. The year of his arrival was also the year of this shoot. Right place, right time.

Mapplethorpe’s final photos are interesting in their own right due to their union of different visions. You have Grace Jones’ body and gestures, with her capacity to strut like in the photos she did with Jean Paul Gaude, portraying a being between an animal and a human. On top of that, you have Haring’s primary and instinctive strokes that make her look like a tribal queen, dancing for her gods. And of course, you have Robert Mapplethorpe’s lens, which I personally love. The purist black and white and a direct and always symmetric framing that searches for the classic beauty canon.

Be part of KatariMag

In KatariMag we love art, beauty and ideas. We devote hundreds of hours to research and write to deliver the best stories of contemporary culture.

But the love of art also has its needs. So if KatariMag moves you and entertains you, be part of our community and collaborate with us! You can choose between PayPal or Patreon


Newsletter Mensuales por KatariMag

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