Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe

Film/Video

Image courtesy the director

Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe

James Crump, 2007

New Documentary

Nonfiction filmmaking holds a strong appeal for many committed directors and producers. This ongoing series lets you sample wide-ranging approaches to the contemporary documentary.

Thu, Dec 6, 2007 7 PM

An intimate look at two legendary art-world figures, Black White + Gray brings to light the role that curator and collector Sam Wagstaff played not only in photographer Robert Mapplethorpe’s career but in the larger artistic milieu of the 1970s and 1980s.

A pioneering collector of photography and a highly influential tastemaker, Wagstaff met the then-unknown Mapplethorpe in the early 1970s when he was living with Patti Smith, befriending both of them and becoming Mapplethorpe’s lover and de facto manager. Black White + Gray tells of their mutual transformation—Wagstaff liberated from his conservative background, and Mapplethorpe morphing from struggling artist to world-celebrated image-maker, each man encouraging the other to discover different parts of themselves. Among those sharing their memories of the couple are Patti Smith, Dominick Dunne, Dick Cavett, and photo historian John Szarkowski. (72 mins., video)