HomeArthouse FilmsBlack White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe
Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe Directed by James Crump, 2010
“A potent exercise in art-world mythography…” The New York
Yale-educated and born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Sam Wagstaff’s transformation from innovative museum curator to Robert Mapplethorpe’s lover and patron is intensively probed in BLACK WHITE + GRAY. During the heady years of the 1970s and 1980s, the New York City art scene was abuzz with a new spirit, and Mapplethorpe would be at the center of it. Wagstaff pulled him from his suburban Queens existence, gave him a camera and brought him into this art world that seemed to be waiting for him, creating the man whose infamous images instilled emotions ranging from awe to anger. In turn, Mapplethorpe brought the formerly starched-shirt preppie to the world of drugs and gay S&M sex, well-documented in his still-startling photographs. Twenty-five years separated the lovers, but their relationship was symbiotic to its core, and the two remained together forever. The film also explores the relationship both men had with musician/poet Patti Smith, whose 1975 debut album Horses catapulted her to fame. The film features additional interviews with novelist Dominick Dunne, photographer Ralph Gibson and art historian John Richardson, among many others.
Official Selection Tribeca International Film Festival; Official Selection SilverDocs AFI/Discovery Documentary Festival