The Smiths formed in Manchester in 1982. Based on the song writing partnership of vocalist Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr, the band also included bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce. Critics have called them the most important alternative rock band to emerge from the British independent music scene of the 1980s. Although they had limited commercial success outside the UK while they were still together, and never released a single that charted higher than number 10 in their home country, The Smiths won a significant following, and remain cult and commercial favourites.
The band broke up in 1987 and have turned down several offers to reunite.
ON THIS DATE, MARCH 9, 1989 ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE DIED.
Remembering Robert. In their own voices, friends and peers of Mapplethorpe sit in interview with the author: George Dureau, Edward Lucie-Smith, Holly Solomon, Joel-Peter Witkin, with Camille O'Grady, Miles Everett, and others, covering sex, race, and gender; androgyny; drugs; straight women as muse to gay artists; black men photographed by white photographers; and the popular culture of Robert's wild gay and leather life in the 1960s and 1970s. 312 pages. Hardcover: signed by author~ jack fritscher~ available @ antebellum hollywood
Robert Mapplethorpe (November 4, 1946 – March 9, 1989) was an Americanphotographer, known for his large-scale, highly stylized black and white portraits, photos of flowers and nude men. The frank homoeroticism of some of the work of his middle period triggered a more general controversy about the public funding of artworks, and ended the NEA history of public funding art in America.
Mapplethorpe was born and grew up as a Roman Catholic of English and Irish heritage in Our Lady of the Snows Parish in Floral Park, Queens, New York. His parents were Harry and Joan Mapplethorpe and he grew up with five brothers and sisters. He studied for a B.F.A. from the Pratt Institute inBrooklyn, where he majored in graphic arts,though he dropped out in 1969 before finishing his degree.Mapplethorpe lived with his partner Patti Smith from 1967 to 1974, and she supported him by working in bookstores. They created art together, and even after he realized he was homosexual, they maintained a close relationship.
Mapplethorpe took his first photographs soon thereafter using a Polaroid camera. In the mid-1970s, he acquired a Hasselblad medium-format camera and began taking photographs of a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, including artists, composers, and socialites. By the 1980s his subject matter focused on statuesque male and female nudes, delicate flower still lifes, and highly formal portraits of artists and celebrities. Mapplethorpe's first studio was at 24 Bond Street in Manhattan. In the 1980s, his mentor and lifetime companion art curator Sam Wagstaff gave him $500,000 to buy the top-floor loft at 35 West 23rd Street, where he lived and had his shooting space. He kept the Bond Street loft as his darkroom.
In the summer of 1989, Mapplethorpe's traveling solo exhibit brought national attention to the issues of public funding for the arts, who defines what is obscene, and what censorship should be acceptable. The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., had agreed to be one of the host museums for the tour. Mapplethorpe decided to show his latest series that he explored shortly before his death. Titled Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment, it was curated by Janet Kardon of the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA).The hierarchy of the Corcoran and several members of the U.S. Congress were upset when the works were revealed to them, due to some of the content being homoerotic and sadomasochistically themed. The museum refused the exhibit's stop during the national tour.
In June 1989, pop artistLowell Blair Nesbitt became involved in the censorship issue. Nesbitt, a long-time friend of Mapplethorpe, revealed that he had a $1.5-million bequest to the museum in his will, but publicly promised that if the museum refused to host the exhibition, he would revoke the bequest. The Corcoran refused and Nesbitt bequeathed the money to the Phillips Collection instead. After the Corcoran refused the Mapplethorpe exhibition, the underwriters of the exhibition went to the nonprofit Washington Project for the Arts, which showed all the images in its space from July 21 to August 13, 1989, to large crowds. In 1990, the Contemporary Arts Center, and Dennis Barrie, were charged with obscenity. They were found not guilty by a jury.
According to the ICA, "The Corcoran's decision sparked a controversial national debate: Should tax dollars support the arts? Who decides what is "obscene" or "offensive" in public exhibitions? And if art can be considered a form of free speech, is it a violation of the First Amendment to revoke federal funding on grounds of obscenity? To this day, these questions remain very much at issue.