Next spring, two major art institutions in Los Angeles (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art) will be unveiling comprehensive retrospectives about Robert Mapplethorpe. To complete this overwhelming (and overdue) appreciation for the multi-talented artist, HBO will be releasing a landmark documentary about Mapplethorpe simply called Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures. Directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, Look at the Pictures intends to dive deep into the life and death of the adventurous photographer through archival and original interviews from loved ones and collaborators as well as his iconic and controversial photos.
About the jarring and beautiful work shown within the documentary, in a press release Bailey and Barbato said “Even his most shocking and forbidden images are included without blurs, without snickers — in other words, exactly as the artist intended.”
Beyond being a pioneer in the world of photography, Mapplethorpe is best known as Patti Smith‘s best friend and muse. Smith’s critically acclaimed memoir Just Kids chronicled their lives in New York, and Mapplethorpe’s photo graced the cover of her 1975 album Horses. While there is no mention of Smith being involved in the documentary, Look at the Pictures does feature appearances by Mapplethorpe’s siblings, Debbie Harry, Fran Lebowitz, Jack Walls, Brook Shields, and Carolina Herrera.
Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures will debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but will premiere on HBO in April 2016.