Friday, 5 February 2016


Up to the end of the seventies, Robert Mapplethorpe's tempestuous career as a photographer was focused mainly on New York. The first champion of his work in Europe was Amsterdam gallery owner Rob Jurka, who put on his first European show as early as 1979. He also published a catalogue, now a rarity, but fortunately, an ardent Dutch photobook collector put an impression on YouTube:

The next year Galerie Jurka featured a Mapplethorpe exhibition once more, showing his now famous Black Males series. 

In 2015, Mapplethorpe's Man in Polyester Suit was auctioned by Sotheby's for USD 478,000. From the catalogue note:

The photograph offered here, from a private collector in Amsterdam, has a distinguished and direct provenance.  It was acquired from Amsterdam’s Galerie Jurka in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and has remained in the same collection ever since.  Rob Jurka was one of the first dealers in Europe to handle and promote Mapplethorpe’s work.  He first showed Mapplethorpe’s photographs in 1979, and published an accompanying catalogue.  In 1980, Galerie Jurka was the debut venue for Mapplethorpe’s Black Males exhibition; again, Jurka published a catalogue for the show, with an introduction by Edmund White.  Galerie Jurka would go on to hold one-man shows of Mapplethorpe’s work in 1981, 1982, and 1988, making Rob Jurka one of Mapplethorpe’s most constant European champions. Mapplethorpe’s file card for Man in Polyester Suit, now in the collection of the Getty Research Institute, shows that six of the 15 editioned prints of this image were offered through Galerie Jurka. 

[For the complete description, click here]

Prentwerk is proud to offer the original Black Males catalogue, SIGNED by Mapplethorpe himself. Perhaps sadly, Man in Polyester Suit is not included, but a rare and interesting item all the same.