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Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946–1989)
LOT ID: 71087
Handwritten letter to Lloyd Ziff, 1976

Ink, Letter and envelope, written in dark brown ink
10.44 х 7.19 in. (26.52 x 18.26 cm.)
Signed, ’Robert’ in black ink
Print/Casting Year 1976
Lot description
The envelope measures 4 x 7.44 inches. The letter measures 10.44 x 7.19 inches and was folded into thirds to fit into the envelope. The envelope and letter are handwritten in brown ink and the letter is written on both sides of one sheet of the stationary. The envelope and stationary sheet are made from matching cream colored fine quality stock. The envelope was opened at its top and back and is fully intact. There are no stains or markings other than Mapplethorpe’s handwriting on both the letter and envelope.
The postmark is fully legible and reads “New York, NY 10007, PM, 10 Feb 1976.”

An exceptional and historically important letter from Robert Mapplethorpe announcing "...I finally have a gallery in N.Y. [sic] - It's run by a woman named Holly Solomon - the gallery is named after her - It opened in September so you probably have never heard of it..." The letter is postmarked February 10, 1976.

Addressed to Lloyd Ziff, who was briefly, at the time, the Art Director of Playgirl Magazine in Los Angeles. Ziff had asked Robert to contribute a photograph of Patti Smith for an article about her music career, which was just beginning.

Ziff and Mapplethorpe were both students at Pratt Institute. In her 2010 book "Just Kids" about this period, Patti Smith published two of Ziff's photographs of her and Robert which he had shot in their apartment in 1968. Smith credits them as the first portraits of her and Robert together.

In 1977, Holly Solomon launched Mapplethorpe's career with his "Flowers" exhibit and then later in the year his "Portraits." She maintained that Mapplethorpe was not a photographer, but "an artist taking photographs." This was a very new concept at the time, to distinguish traditional photography and photographers from what Mapplethorpe and William Wegman (who also showed with Solomon at the time) were doing.
Autographed Letter and Envelope signed, announcing that he finally has a gallery by Robert Mapplethorpe
  • Autographed Letter and Envelope signed, announcing that he finally has a gallery by Robert Mapplethorpe
  • Autographed Letter and Envelope signed, announcing that he finally has a gallery by Robert Mapplethorpe
  • Autographed Letter and Envelope signed, announcing that he finally has a gallery by Robert Mapplethorpe
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