Get Ready for Robert Mapplethorpe’s New HBO Documentary

It will feature interviews with Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, and more.

A new documentary about American artist Robert Mapplethorpe is coming soon.

HBO Documentary Films will debut Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures in April 2016, which is the first feature-length film on the late photographer, who died of AIDS in 1989.

Now is the time for the public to rediscover Mapplethorpe’s work, over a quarter century after his death. In a 1988 interview with Gary Indiana in BOMB magazine, Mapplethorpe says, “I wouldn’t trade places with a painter. I think you have a really interesting life as a photographer. To me the most important thing is my experience, and not anything else.”

As the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) prepare retrospectives of the artist to open in March, fans of Mapplethorpe’s provocative photographs will be able to see their preparation in the film. Filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (Inside Deep Throat) direct this deep dive into the artist’s life and work, with never-before-seen photographs, forgotten footage, and rediscovered audio interviews.

“I think it’s important for people to realize that we were all young, all naive, and also we had lived in a time that had magic,” Renaissance woman Patti Smith tells NPR after the release of her memoir, Just Kids, about her relationship with Mapplethorpe. Smith will make an appearance in the film, along with interviews with gallerist Mary Boone, writer Fran Lebowitz, writer Bob Colacello, Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry, and others.

“Even his most shocking and forbidden images are included without blurs, without snickers—in other words, exactly as the artist intended,” Bailey and Barbato say in a statement.


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