It is striking to observe that in 1910 our artistic level was still extraordinarily high. Since that time, alas! our decadence has merely become accentuated. In the field of painting, for example, it’s enough to recall the lamentable daubs that people have tried to foist, in the name of art, on the German people.
This was quite especially the case during the Weimar Republic, and that clearly demonstrated the disastrous influence of the Jews in matters of art. The cream of the jest was the incredible impudence with which the Jew set about it! With the help of phony art critics, and with one Jew bidding against another, they finally suggested to the people — which naturally believes everything that’s printed — a conception of art according to which the worst rubbish in painting became the expression of the height of artistic accomplishment. The ten thousand of the élite themselves, despite their pretensions on the intellectual level, let themselves be diddled, and swallowed all the humbug. The culminating hoax — and we now have proof of it, thanks to the seizure of Jewish property — is that, with the money they fraudulently acquired by selling trash, the Jews were able to buy, at wretched prices, the works of value they had so cleverly depreciated. Every time an inventory catches my eye of a requisition carried out on an important Jew, I see that genuine artistic treasures are listed there. It’s a blessing of Providence that National Socialism, by seizing power in 1933, was able to put an end to this imposture.
When I visit an exhibition, I never fail to have all the daubs pitilessly withdrawn from it. It will be admitted that whoever visits the House of German Art today will not find any work there that isn’t worthy of its place. I never hesitated, even when it was a question of works by painters given prizes by the Academy of Prussia, to ban these works from the House of German Art whenever they were worthless. It’s a pity that the Academy isn’t not up to its task, and that its members played amongst themselves the game of you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours. The latest victim was our Minister of Religious Affairs, who knows as much about art as a hippopotamus. He fell into the most obvious traps and gave official rewards to genuine ordure. The Jews had succeeded in lulling him to sleep by using on him the same methods as had already enabled them to trick the whole German people. On the subject of these daubs, people assert that it isn’t easy to understand them and that, to penetrate their depth and significance, one must be able to immerse oneself entirely in the image represented — and other idiocies from the same mill. In the years 1905-1906, when I entered the Vienna Academy, these hollow phrases were already being used — to give publicity to innumerable daubs, under the pretext of artistic experiment.
In a general way, the academies have nothing to tell me that’s worth listening to. In fact, the professors who are active there are either failures, or else artists of talent (but who cannot devote more than two hours a day to their teaching), or else weary old men who therefore have nothing more to give.
Genuine artists develop only by contact with other artists. Like the Old Masters, they began by working in a studio. Let’s remember that men like Rembrandt, Rubens, and others hired assistants to help them to complete all their commissions.
Amongst these assistants, only those reached the rank of apprentice who displayed the necessary gifts as regards technique and adroitness — and of whom it could be supposed that they would in their turn be capable of producing works of value. It’s ridiculous to claim, as it’s claimed in the academies, that right from the start the artist of genius can do what he likes. Such a man must begin, like everyone else, by learning, and it’s only by working without relaxation that he succeeds in achieving what he wants. If he doesn’t know the art of mixing colours to perfection — if he cannot set a background — if anatomy still has secrets for him — it’s certain he won’t go very far! I can imagine the number of sketches it took an artist as gifted as Menzel before he set himself to paint the Flute Concert at Sans-Souci.
It would be good if artists to-day, like those of olden days, had the training afforded by the Masters’ studios and could thus steep themselves in the great pictorial traditions. If, when we look at the pictures of Rembrandt and Rubens, for example, it is often difficult to make out what the Master has painted himself and what is his pupils’ share, that’s due to the fact that gradually the disciples themselves became masters.
What a disaster it was, the day when the State began to interfere with the training of painters! As far as Germany is concerned, I believe that two academies would suffice: in Düsseldorf and Munich. Or perhaps three in all, if we add Vienna to the list. Obviously there’s no question, for the moment, of abolishing any of our academies. But that doesn’t prevent one from regretting that the tradition of the studios has been lost.
If, after the war, I can realise my great building programme — and I intend to devote thousands of millions to it — only genuine artists will be called on to collaborate.
Source: Adolf Hitler, Table Talk, 27 March 1942; via David Sims
Arno Breker (1900 – 1991) was a German sculptor, best known for his public works in Nazi Germany, which were endorsed by the authorities as the antithesis of degenerate art. During his time in Paris in the twenties and early thirties he was influenced by Jean Cocteau, Jean Renoir, Pablo Picasso and Aristide Maillol, who was later to describe Breker as ‘Germany’s Michelangelo’. He maintained personal relationships with Albert Speer and with Hitler. In 1937 Breker joined the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and was made ‘official state sculptor’ by Hitler. He was given a large property and provided a studio with forty-three assistants. As main sculptor and more or less number one on the Gottbegnadeten list, he was exempted from military service. His twin sculptures The Party and The Army held a prominent position at the entrance to Albert Speer’s new Reich Chancellery.
Arno Breker was represented at the Great German Art Exhibitions with 42 works. The neoclassical nature of his work, with titles like Comradeship, Torchbearer and Sacrifice, typified Nazi ideals, and suited the characteristics of Nazi architecture. On closer inspection, though, the proportions of his figures, the highly colorful treatment of his surfaces (the strong contrasts between dark and light accents), and the melodramatic tension of their musculatures perhaps invites comparison with the Italian Mannerist sculptors of the 16th century. While nearly all of his sculptures survived World War II, more than 90% of his public work was destroyed by the Allies after the war. Arno Breker had 10 sculptures displayed at the XXI Venice Biennale, 1938 and the XXII Venice Biennale, 1940, including ‘Pronti’ (‘Bereitschaft’, GDK 1939), ‘Ricardo Wagner’ (‘Bust of Richard Wagner’, GDK 1941), and ‘Ponderazione’ (‘Berufung’, GDK 1941). Four works by Breker were part of the art collection of Hermann Göring and destinated for the ‘Norddeutsche Gallery’. In 1946 Breker was offered a commission by Joseph Stalin but he refused and stated ‘One dictatorship is sufficient for me’.
After the war he continued to receive commissions for sculptures, producing a number of works in his familiar classical style, working for businesses and individual patrons. He also produced many bronze female sculptures, in smaller sizes. Some of these were casts from original models designed before 1945.
Today, humanity is only occupied with various materials. Someone takes a piece of railroad track and sets it on a lawn, and that’s supposed to be art.” – Arno Breker
If you look at history, you’ll see there are no schizophrenic sculptors. … We sculptors are too close to the material. We have to deal with stone, with the material. The overcoming of the material is a monumental task, one that challenges me from the moment my day begins.” – Arno Breker
MOSCOW — Austrian artist Leopold Kessler has built a car ramp, strong enough to hold a jeep, leading up to the window of a Soviet-era apartment in Russia’s remote ‘Jewish Autonomous Republic’ of Birobidzhan, envisioned by Stalin as a homeland for Communist Jews.
Kessler says his work reflects the gap between rich and poor in modern Russia.
In Moscow, elevators bring luxury cars to the penthouse doors of oligarchs, so why not do the same for the folks in Birobidzhan?
The work is one of many produced during a trip to Birobidzhan by US, European and South Korean artists, who have each responded to the area’s unique combination of Soviet Jewish heritage, Chinese influence and modern Russian reality. Their show opened this week.
For Nina Nyukhalova, who allowed her balcony to be used for Kessler’s car ramp, it was something completely different.
“When it appeared yesterday I was scared,” she remembered, laughing. “It’s the first time anything like this has happened here.”
Closer to Beijing than to Moscow, Birobidzhan was founded in 1931 and designated by authorities as a new homeland for Soviet Jews. But Stalinist purges, disease and an unforgiving terrain took their toll on the tens of thousands of people who made the journey there, and many left again.
Today, the number of practicing Jews in the city of Birobidzhan has dwindled to about 3,000 people out of a population of about 75,000. But they guard their identity with passion and pride. A giant menorah stands in front of the railway station and all street signs are in Yiddish as well as Cyrillic.
Bringing artists to Birobidzhan means they can tell the city’s story to a wider audience, says curator Simon Mraz, cultural attache at the Austrian embassy in Moscow. “Russia is a treasure box of cultural heritage that is untold to the wider international public,” Mraz told the AP.
Mraz has staged art shows across Russia, on sites including a nuclear icebreaker in Murmansk and a Soviet space observatory in the North Caucasus.
When Alfred Willer was a boy in Czechoslovakia, he drew a forest and colored the trees red, as though they were on fire. But the forest was not burning, and the trees were in fact green. This is how Willer discovered he was color blind.
Alfred Willer, now 87, is color blind in a figurative sense, as well. With a religiously blended family and a warm and open attitude to all people in his multicultural adopted country of Brazil and elsewhere, he has always seen beyond race and religion.This anecdote figures prominently in Marina Willer‘s new feature documentary film,“Red Trees,” about her father’s experiences as an adolescent during the Holocaust. Alfred Willer and his parents were one of only 12 Jewish families to survive the Nazi occupation of Prague during World War II.
“I have never understood an attachment to one nation, to one culture, one origin. Our origins our many, our journeys utterly unpredictable. We are a mixture, and in this there is beauty,” Willer says in the film.
His color blindness not withstanding, Willer is a highly visual person. Having always loved drawing, he eventually became a successful modernist architect, working mainly in the Brazilian city of Curitiba. Willer passed on his creativity and visual instincts to his children, including his London-based daughter Marina, who is a noted graphic designer and partner at Pentagram, the world’s largest independently owned design studio.
This being said, it’s not surprising that Marina Willer chose a visual idiom to tell her father’s story. However, “Red Trees,” opening September 15 in New York and Los Angeles, busts open the genre, taking Holocaust memoir film into new artistic territory.
An impressionistic visual essay, “Red Trees” bursts with stunning, colorful images shot in the Czech Republic, London and Brazil by Academy Award nominated cinematographer César Charlone (“City of God”). A few old family photos are interspersed here and there, but not one frame of black and white archival footage appears.
And in a world in which images appear and disappear instantaneously, Willer purposely chose to let Charlone’s linger, as they tell her father’s story along with narration by her, her father, and the late distinguished actor Tim Pigott-Smith (reading from Alfred Willer’s memoirs).
“We don’t pay attention to anything, and meanwhile the world is collapsing around us. The film has a lyric and poetic way of reflecting. I felt the subject deserved time, space and silence out of humility and respect for the families and their loss,” Willer said.
Producer Charles Cohen came on board, impressed with Willer’s artistic vision and professionalism after seeing a promotional Kickstarter video she made about the film. Willer had intended to make a short film, but Cohen convinced her”Red Trees” should be a feature.
“I was very affected by the story and how the film is being executed. It’s not another Holocaust memoir of loss and tragedy. It’s a great example of the perseverance and resourcefulness of a family. It mourns those who were lost, but also celebrates those who survived,” Cohen said.
Alfred Willer never discussed what happened during the war to him, his family, friends, and neighbors with his children until they took him on a trip back to the Czech Republic for his 75th birthday. (Some home movies taken on the trip are expertly edited into the film). It was around that time that he also began to write his memoirs, upon which Marina Willer based “Red Trees.”
The only son of Vilem and Charlotte Willer, Alfred had a happy childhood in Kaznějov, where his father, one of the creators of the formulas for synthetic citric acid, worked at the Poldi Steelworks. Following the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, Vilem was fired from his job and the family was forced to move in with Jewish friends in Prague. The friends, the Epsteins, were deported to Auschwitz in 1942. Alfred’s paternal grandmother Theresa was deported to Theresienstadt, where she died of typhoid. Of all of Alfred’s many Jewish summer camp friends, he was the only one left.
Alfred and his parents managed to survive thanks to his mother’s being Christian and of “good breeding,” and his father’s usefulness to the Nazis and jobs as a consultant to paint and shoe polish factories. A Gestapo raid on their home, in which Alfred’s father successfully hid his formula for manufacturing citric acid in his wife’s recipe book, resulted in their passports being confiscated — thus dashing any hopes they had of trying to escape.
In February 1945, 15-year-old Alfred was nearly killed during a British bombing of Prague. The teen had gone to a village on the outskirts of the city to sketch an old church when British war planes mistakenly dropped 152 tons of bombs on populated areas of the Czech capital due to a navigational error during the bombing of Dresden, Germany.
During the Prague Uprising and subsequent Soviet liberation of the city in May 1945, the Willers hid in the basement of their building for days. Alfred recalled seeing people being shot on the building’s doorstep and being hanged in the streets.
Following the war, Vilem Willer decided to emigrate with his family to Brazil, where he had a brother. One of the most touching scenes in the film shows a boat’s foamy wake as Tim Pigott-Smith reads from Alfred’s memoirs a list of the the various people, things and memories the teen leaves behind in Europe forever — one of them his beloved childhood friend Lisa, who disappeared without a trace. (Alfred believed she was sent away to safety on a Kindertransport, but he was never able to located her after the war.)
“It’s been a huge learning curve for me, not only in terms of making my first feature film, but also in terms of getting to know my father,” Marina Willer said.
“My father is quite reserved with his emotions. He never talked about living through the war. He only spoke about historical facts. He never said anything about the deaths of relatives and friends, or about shootings that happened right in front of him,” she said.
Willer said her father was finally ready for the film to be made, and to help his daughter create this legacy for her 10-year-old twins, Dylan and Alfie.
Willer was initially moved to make “Red Trees” as a political statement in response to the global refugee crisis and growing nationalism and xenophobia. She hoped to make a film that would inspired positive attitudes toward migration, diversity and multiculturalism.
“When people are dislocated, it can end up being a gift to the receiving country, as it was with my family,” said the Brazilian-born filmmaker.
As time went on, the project took on a more personal meaning for Willer.
“It’s moved everything around me in terms of family. I feel much closer to my origins. Going into this film, I didn’t realize how close I would come to feel toward the people in it, and how much better I would understand my father,” she said.
Karl Konrad Friedrich Bauer (1868–1942) was a German artist, print-maker and poet. He was an expert draftsmanship, and in the early 20th century he found a good deal of success as an illustrator and portrait artist. Because of his traditional style, he was more than welcome to continue working in the arts when the National Socialists came to power, even receiving the Goethe Medal for Art and Science. Before he died during a visit to Munich in 1942, Karl completed a number of portraits of Adolf Hitler, as well as leaders and heroes of the Third Reich, which have been compiled by NS Europa.
NEW YORK — Another presidential advisory committee is breaking up.
Actor Kal Penn, artist Chuck Close and the entire membership of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities have announced their resignation. A letter dated Friday, and signed by 16 of 17 committee members, cited the “false equivalence” of US President Donald Trump’s comments about last weekend’s “Unite the Right” gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump has blamed “many sides” for the demonstrations that left an anti-racism activist dead.
The White House said Trump had already decided against renewing the advisory committee for budgetary reasons.
“Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions,” the letter reads. “Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.”
The only member whose name did not appear was Broadway director George C. Wolfe. Representatives for Wolfe at Creative Arts Agency said Friday that he was also resigning and that his name would be added to the letter, which seemed to contain a hidden political message beyond the ones stated openly. The first initials of the letter’s six main paragraphs spell out “r-e-s-i-s-t.”
“Earlier this month it was decided that President Trump will not renew the executive order for the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), which expires later this year,” the White House said in a statement attributed to an unnamed spokesperson. “While the committee has done good work in the past, in its current form it simply is not a responsible way to spend American tax dollars.”
The statement said the committee “merely redirects funding” from federal cultural agencies that report directly to the president, Congress and taxpayers.
“These cultural agencies do tremendous work and they will continue to engage in these important projects,” the statement said.
Earlier this week, two business advisory councils were disbanded as members left in protest.
Friday’s exodus heightened the arts world’s contentious relationship with Trump. The president struggled to find entertainers, many of whom backed Hillary Clinton in 2016, to perform at his inaugural gala, and Kennedy Center honorees for lifetime achievement have already said they will not attend the White House reception in December.
As president, Trump has also recommended defunding the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.
The arts and humanities committee was established in 1982 under President Ronald Reagan and, with the first lady serving as honorary chair, works with both government and private agencies in promoting the arts through such programs as Turnaround Arts and Save America’s Treasures. Others signing the resignation letter included Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri; and Vicki Kennedy, widow of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. All were appointed by President Barack Obama.
Ferdinand Liebermann (1883–1941), the son of a toy manufacturer, was a German sculptor. He studied at the Munich School of Arts and Crafts and the Art Academy.
After taking study trips to Rome and Paris, he opened a studio in 1910 in Munich. In the same year he received the Great Austrian Golden State Medal for a small bronze sculpture. Several exhibitions followed. He became one of the most important designers for the porcelain manufacturer Rosenthal AG. Liebermann’s work-spectrum encompasses bronze sculpturing, monumental sculpturing and memorials. In 1926 he received the professor title for monumental and portrait sculpturing in Munich.
After 1933, Liebermann produced at the orders of the Nazi party 32 busts of Hitler (all 1½ life size), one of which was a commission from the city of Munich for the city hall. In appreciation he was made city councillor of the Capital of the Movement, the ‘Haupstadt der Bewegung’. Liebermann’s Führerbust was displayed at the XIX Venice Biennale 1934 (‘Cancelliere del Reich Adolf Hitler’) and also at the GDKs of 1937, 1938 and in the Münchener Kunstausttellungen 1934, 1940 and 1941. It is said that the busts designed by Liebermann were favoured by the German leader over all the others.
His sculpture ‘L’Abbandoro’ (‘Abandoned’) was displayed at the XIV Biennale 1924 in Venice; ‘Erhebung’ (‘Elevatione’ or ‘Elevation’) was displayed at the XIX Venice Biennale 1934 and later again at the GDK 1937, room 9. In 1938 his bronze ‘Abwehr’ (‘Defence’ or ‘Ripulso’) was displayed at the XXI Venice Biennale. Liebermann also completed a bronze bust of Hitler’s half-niece Geli Raubal, who had shot herself in Hitler’s apartment in 1931. From this bust Hitler had numerous copies made for display in his residences.
At the Great German Art Exhibitions Ferdinand Liebermann was represented with 16 works, among them the two Hitler busts, the relief ‘Wille’ (design for the Freikorps-monument), a bust of Riechsleiter Alfred Rosenberg, Reichsleiter Amann and two ‘Kampf’ sculptures.
In 1941, the year of his death, he created the massive sculpture for the Freikorpsdenkmal (‘Freikorps monument’) in Munich. This monument was dedicated to the Freikorps, a post-World War I right-wing organization. It was also named: ‘Das Denkmal für die Befreier Münchens von den kommunistischen Horden’ (‘Memorial for the liberators of Munich from the communist hordes’). On May 3rd, 1942 it was erected at a busy traffic intersection, the Giesinger Hill (Munich), which was the site of a May 1919 battle between the Freikorps and local communists. The monumental stone structure was composed of a twenty-four foot high relief of a naked male figure strangling a snake symbolizing degeneration and decline. The Freikorps memorial itself was removed after the war, but its concrete base can still be seen today on Ichostraße. A smaller version of the sculpture with the name ‘Wille’ (Will) was displayed in the GDK 1940, room 7. In the possession of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen are the following works: ‘Eva’ (GDK 1939 room 35), ‘Abwehr’, ‘In Erwartung’, Frisches Lachen’, ‘Paolo’, ‘Rhythmus’ and ‘Knabe auf einem Waller reitend’. A copy of ‘Eva’ in bronze (72 cm high) was displayed at the exhibition ‘Kunst im 3. Reich, Dokumente der Unterwerfung’; the exhibition, instigated by the Frankfurter Kunstverein, was held from 1974 to 1975 in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Ludwigshafen and Wuppertal.
A swastika was found spray-painted on the exterior of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design building on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem on Thursday morning.
According to Zionist NGO Im Tirtzu, this is the second time in two weeks that swastikas were found on the Mount Scopus campus, which houses both the Bezalel Academy and the Hebrew University.
The first one was found on July 26, on the door of a bathroom stall alongside a Star of David and an equals sign, so as to equate Jews with Nazis. The NGO also said a similar swastika was found on campus in February, however, according to the university, this has yet to be confirmed.
The Bezalel Academy confirmed a swastika was found on Thursday, adding that it removed it.
Swastika vandalism at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (Dudi Eitsufin)Swastika vandalism at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (Dudi Eitsufin)
Matan Peleg, CEO of Im Tirtzu, said: “A reality in which two swastikas are discovered in the span of two weeks at a university campus in Israel’s capital is very troubling and dangerous.”
Peleg said the political atmosphere at the Hebrew University may have contributed to the vandalism, and cited a lecture by political science professor Ofer Cassif where he equated certain Israeli laws to laws passed by Nazi Germany. The lecture was recorded and soon leaked to the public. “It is no wonder that such a thing could occur when there are professors in the Hebrew University who liken IDF soldiers to Nazis and Israeli laws to laws of the Third Reich,” Peleg said.
“Unfortunately, many of the anti-Israel incidents that occur on campuses are bolstered by professors. This incident further illustrates the need for an academic code of ethics.”
Swastika vandalism at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (Dudi Eitsufin)Swastika vandalism at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (Dudi Eitsufin)
The Hebrew University said in a statement: “On July 26, a swastika was found painted inside the grounds of the Hebrew University. The offending symbol was removed and the incident is under investigation by the university’s security branch. Until the full investigation is concluded, speculation about causes or connections behind the offending symbols is premature and irresponsible.
“The university views the drawing of offensive symbols very seriously and has zero tolerance for expressions of incitement on campus. The university espouses pluralism and freedom of expression, while upholding the law and safeguarding human dignity.”
My first inadvertent glimpse of the depraved “art” of dick-pic photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (1946 – 1989, selfie) occurred while Googling images using the search term “Sausalito,” a quaint seaside community across the bay from San Francisco.
While scrolling the first page of postcard-style scenery, I was unwittingly subjected to a stylized black-and-white photo of a hooded man urinating into another man’s mouth. The source of the scatalogical image, titled “Jim and Tom, Sausalito” (1977), is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) website. I would’ve guessed it was some hardcore fetish porn magazine for homosexuals.
I’m not going to force this filth on you the way Google and LACMA subversively forced it on me – and probably countless others. If you want to see what I’m talking about, simply click here.
Though I studied photography for a couple years in college, Mapplethorpe was an unknown name to me. (I wish it still were.) A cursory glance at his work revealed a collection of slick black-and-white photos of homosexual acts of grotesque degeneracy. A brief bio stated that, unsurprisingly, he died AIDS — a fitting end, I thought, and good riddance to bad rubbish.
Although Mapplethorpe is long dead, his perverted work won’t be buried. In fact, it’s being promoted.
‘Look at the Pictures’
In 2016, HBO premiered its original 90-minute documentary on Mapplethorpe called “Look at the Pictures.” Curious about the narrative HBO employed to justify this so-called “art,” I decided to watch it. Plus, after producing photography old-school style for 10 years and digital for 10, I understand intimately the complex aspects of the medium. Even when not enthralled with the subject matter, I can still appreciate the challenges and enjoy learning about technique.
That was not the case with this flick, because it was not about a photographer or photography. It’s a story about a morally bankrupt man who hated photography. He didn’t study it. He never even bothered to learn to process film or make prints. His interest was in fame, wealth and being viewed as an “artist,” and he exploited everyone and everything around him – even himself — in order to obtain that goal.
The following links provide a shortlist of Mapplethorpe’s depraved work: S&M, black mass, fisting, pissing into a glass, penises, rectums, satanism and awkwardly posednaked children. If you Google Mapplethorpe, you’ll also find, oddly enough, that he photographed flowers and celebrities. I won’t be displaying any of Mapplethorpe’s garbage on this website. Frankly, I don’t even like writing about him, but New Nationalist contributors believe it’s important to raise awareness about cultural rot and the weaponization of art.
According to HBO, the Mapplethorpe Foundation donated his massive collection of self-produced pornography to J. Paul Getty Museum and LACMA in 2011. The 120,000 images fill five vaults at The Getty. Its value was placed at $38 million (estate value est. $228 million). Both museums concurrently exhibit his work as “twin retrospectives,” though the museums’ curators admittedly “have trouble making a case for this.”
HBO goes on to describe Mapplethorpe’s work as one of the great controversies of the ‘90s and the artist himself as “demonized by conservative politicians.” Then we are shown his early life as a boy in middle-class America. He’s described in interviews as a “fuck up,” a thief and a “devilish guy” who was raised a Catholic.
At Pratt College, he dropped acid and used other drugs. His roommate said Mapplethorpe laced his cigarette with LSD and, as a result, completely lost his memory. He said Mapplethorpe was always trying to find a way to stand out from the rest and was often seen wearing a black top hat and black cape around campus. He also adopted a small monkey that would ride on his shoulder.
As a final project at Pratt, students were required to make a musical instrument out of bone. And what fortunate timing for Mapplethorpe when his monkey “suddenly died.” So he chopped off his head, boiled it and turned it in for his project, his roommate recalls.
Around this time, Mapplethorpe began his lifelong relationship with Patti Smith, a sexually androgynous woman who also was aspiring artist without any notable ability. They were described as a good couple because they were “respective of each other’s magic.”
After college, they lived together at an art colony in Chelsea – or rather, they lived like pigs and called it “art.” Mapplethorpe worked as a call boy (male prostitute) and stole gay porn magazines from which he would make “art” collages. He also got into fetish toys that he would craft into “art sculpture” – if that’s what you want to call a dildo protruding from a pair of leather pants.
Eventually, he begin shooting his own dick pics with a Polaroid camera and incorporating the snaps with his porno paper-doll cutouts. Voila! An “artist” was born! (puh-leez) Apparently, punk-rock poet girlfriend Patti didn’t care about Robert’s bisexual tendencies. The two were trying to make the social scene in Chelsea, and whatever it took to do so was encouraged. So Mapplethorpe collected boyfriends who were published models.
One male model/lover introduced him to Sam Wagstaff, an art collector and curator from a well-to-do, well-connected New York family. Wagstaff, who had a Polish wife, was also a closet homosexual. He and Mapplethorpe had a 15-year affair. Wagstaff provided Mapplethorpe with his resources (money, access to New York’s art world and celebrities), and Mapplethorpe provided Wagstaff with extreme sex and drugs. Suddenly Mapplethorpe was able to acquire high-end equipment, a real studio and staff to print and promote his work. With Wagstaff’s help, he had showings, recognition and eventual sales. For favorable reviews, Mapplethorpe would charm and sexually seduce art critics.
In time, Patti coaxed Mapplethorpe into photographing celebrities in order to diversify his portfolio’s “sex stuff.” He photographed Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brooke Shields, Sigourney Weaver, Susan Sarandon, Isabella Rossellini, Grace Jones, Deborah Harry, Iggy Pop, Peter Gabriel, Truman Capote, Susan Sontag, Carolina Herrera and Andy Warhol, among others. Warhol was said to have despised Mapplethorpe, and Mapplethorpe was jealous of the prices Warhol could command for his work.
But critics weren’t enamored with his non-“sex stuff” and labeled it pedestrian and “retrograde.”
Nonetheless, even after achieving a measure of success, Mapplethorpe continued to frequent New York’s underground, low-rent, homosexual night clubs known for orgies, S&M and scatological fetishes. As a routine, he would pick up a man, bring him back to his home studio, have sex with him, photograph him and show him the door.
He eventually developed a preference for black men, and it was said that later in life he slept with them and photographed them almost exclusively. He also befriended a homosexual former priest and exorcist. The two probably meshed well given that Mapplethorpe was a self-professed hardcore Luciferian.
“Satan to him was a convivial playmate,” the exorcist told HBO – but the cable network chose not to address this aspect of his life. Rather, references to devil worship and Satanism were delivered as tidbits of color offered by interviewees in this biography that elevates perversion to an art form. And not only did HBO choose not to explore Mapplethorpe’s satanic side, it completely ignored some of the even more despicable aspects of his life – if you can imagine such a thing.
David Berkowitz, The Process Church, a Snuff Film and an Unsolved Murder
Mapplethorpe has been tied by multiple sources to the “Son of Sam” serial killer David Berkowitz, The Process Church (a satanic cult offshoot of the Church of Scientology that gained fame for its ties to the Manson family) and the unsolved murder of photographer Ronald Sisman.
The story goes like this: On Halloween eve in 1981, police responded to reports of gunfire at an apartment in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. When they arrived at the third-floor duplex, police discovered the slayed bodies of Smith College student Elizabeth Platzman, 20, and photographer Ronald Sisman, 39.
Both victims had been beaten severely and shot once in the back of their heads at close range, the police said. The apartment had been ransacked. …
Mr. Sisman operated two photography businesses at that address. The apartment’s furnishings had been torn apart, apparently by the killer or killers in a search for something, the spokesman said. All identification had been removed from the bodies of Miss Platzman and Mr. Sisman, he added.
Police are investigating the possibility that robbery was the motive for the double homicide. Authorities also raised the possibility that Mr. Sisman may have known his murderer, since there was no sign of forcible entry to the apartment.
According to various witness interviews, reports, books and authors, Berkowitz’s last murder in 1977 was allegedly filmed. Years after his killings, Berkowitz admitted to being a member of The Process Church. He said 12 members of the cult – and specifically the Carr family and son Sam Carr — was involved in some of the “Son of Sam” killings for which he took responsibility.
In the final Sam attack, the victims were selected because they were parked under a street light, which created optimal conditions for filming. Three people in a van a few feet away made a video recording, a snuff film of the attack, for sale underground, Terry reported.
A convicted bank robber named Jesse Turner, who once lived with Smith and Mapplethorpe, told Terry that Mapplethorpe knew about this tape. In fact, Turner said, Mapplethorpe asked him to arrange the killing of Ronald Sisman, the man who had the tape, which was filmed at the Process’ request. Sisman was murdered in 1981, and the two hit men recovered five snuff films from Sisman’s apartment, including the Son of Sam tape.
Turner said he was a good friend of Michael Carr, who supposedly pulled the trigger in the seventh of the eight Son of Sam shootings. About halfway into the killings, Turner told Terry that he learned “the Process was behind Son of Sam. They called it one of their ‘Apocalyptic Trials,’ which meant a major display of public violence.”
But enough about Mapplethorpe, who’s now just a worm-eaten corpse. What matters today, right now, is messaging.
In the ‘90s, there was some political push back to Mapplethorpe’s work by the conservative wing in Washington, D.C. and in particular Senator Jesse Helms, the American Family Association and Citizens for Community Values on the grounds of obscenity. A museum ended up in court for exhibiting Mapplethorpe’s photos, and the museum won. [A thorough yet Pervert Justice Warrior-biased article on the case may be viewed here.]
After that, Mapplethorpe’s bogus “art” seemed to disappear from public view until around 2014, which marked the 25th anniversary of his death. What opportune timing for a retrospective, just as the media unleashed an unprecedented wave of homosexual and transgender propaganda on the American public in a manner similar to post-WWI Berlin [see this video starting at minute 1:12:00].
On a denotative level, Mapplethorpe’s art represents sexual exploitation in its rawest form regardless of orientation. Then and now, certain groups within society that want to normalize human exploitation will employ “art” such as Mapplethorpe’s as a vehicle to bring about cultural and moral decay.
On a connotative level, there’s a dangerous message here, especially for aspiring photographers and artists. The message is that success is not about God-given talent or the inherent artistic value of thoughtful work. Rather, to be revered and successful, one must constantly find new ways to lower the bar. One must be willing to exploit everyone and everything around them — even if it means killing your pet monkey and prostituting yourself to homosexuals.
But most importantly, it encourages struggling young artists to find sugar daddies or mommies with wealth and social connections, and to let that elite figure sexually exploit them in exchange for access to their capital and connections. What sad social commentary, truly. One wonders how many Mapplethorpe wannabees are loose upon the land.
It should noted that during the Cold War, the CIA used modern art as a weapon. Starting in the ’50s, the agency secretly funded and flaunted modern artists such as Pollock and de Kooning to a global audience as proof of America’s creative and intellectual freedom, as opposed to communist Russia’s ideological constraints. In this light, the question begs: Is it possible that the CIA is running the same type of program with post-modern art to juxtapose Islamist values and perhaps even inflame Muslim rage toward the West? It’s something to think about, certainly.
In close, it should also be noted that the “Look at the Pictures” — a not-for-prime-time documentary that should be (at minimum) rated NC-17 — received the Prime Time Emmy Award for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special. It was produced and directed by filmmakers Randy Barbato and Fenton Baily, whose film and television production roster includes “Party Monster,” “Inside Deep Throat,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “The Secret Rulers of the World.”