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Phaeton and Thomas:
The New Deutsche Guggenheim Edition to the Robert Mapplethorpe Exhibition



Edition No. 28 - Robert Mapplethorpe and the Classical Tradition

In Mapplethorpe and the Classical Tradition, the Deutsche Guggenheim is currently examining the art historical dialogue between Robert Mapplethorpe's work and the prints of Dutch and Flemish Mannerism. This remarkable juxtaposition of Mapplethorpe's oeuvre with etchings and woodcuts by masters such as Hendrick Goltzius, Jan Hermensz. Muller, Jacob Matham, and Jan Saenredam demonstrates the fascination that Mannerist poses and forms held for one of the most important photographers of the 20th century.

The Deutsche Guggenheim edition on the exhibition, titled Phaeton and Thomas, 2004, shows the mythological figure of Phaeton, son of Helios, who dared drive his father's sun chariot across the sky and was finally felled by Zeus, who thus prevented the world from going up in flames.

Hendrick Goltzius' etching reflects an evaluation of the fine arts that was new to the time. In 1595, the Habsburg Emperor Rudolph II finally elevated painting to the level of a fine art, liberating it from its traditional guild context. Goltzius' works reflect this appreciation in value, which bears a direct connection to Mannerism's free interplay of forms.

The work of the experimental Dutch master forms a pendant to Robert Mapplethorpe's photograph Thomas from 1987, in which the artist's passion for the human body experiences one of its most classical expressions. As Goltzius did in his etching after Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem, he chose the classical form of the tondo.

Entirely in keeping with the exhibition's unusual theme, a new technique was implemented for Edition No. 28: the Diavography process makes it possible to unite a nearly screenless print with the quality of traditional handicraft. Each image is individually applied to paper and subsequently reworked.

The Diavography on hand-made Hahnemühle rag paper (55 x 88 cm) has been produced in a limited edition of 100 copies and costs 240 Euros. M.M.