Last night, I was looking for a documentary on Richard Avedon on netflix or Amazon Instant Video and ended up finding this gem. “Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff + Robert Mapplethorpe” is an interesting piece that covers a lot of material on these two people who are still a heavy influence on art community. As an added bonus, Patti Smith has an integral role in the telling of this story.
Ingrid Sischy’s interviews were the most grating in the documentary. At first it sounded like she was out to demonize Robert Mapplethorpe and then at the end, she turned on Sam Wagstaff. Most of her comments were contrary to anything that I had read on either individual.
Despite Ingrid, the work was well done and quite informative. I would recommend this film to anyone wanting to garner more information on either Mapplethorpe or Wagstaff (or even on american art culture).
One reviewer states, “The footage about the deaths of these two men from AIDS, Wagstaff in 1987 and Mapplethorpe in 1989. is of course terribly sad as is the way this film ends with the names and dates of their deaths of the many artists in all fields who died of this horrific disease. The voice-over reminds us that they are irreplaceable.” These statements could not be more true.