Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe Reviews
However, this is the documentary where everyone should begin in order to learn more about Wagstaff and Mapplethorpe. Sam Wagstaff contributed in the reinvention of several art forms and Robert Mapplethorpe literally revived the black-and-white photography. Both men died of AIDS, Wagstaff in 1987 and his lover, Mapplethorpe, in 1989 -in a period when AIDS "killed" hundreds of mythic men.
Lots of pretentious twerps talk - in essence - about their bank balances while apparently filmed on someone's old camcorder, and then thrown together by someone with extremely little grasp of editing pictures or - more particularly - sound. Meanwhile accompanied by the most intrusive, hectoring, condescending voice over imaginable. (Think evil infant school teacher...)
Most of the content is just unsubstantiated hagiography which explains absolutely nothing to someone unfamiliar with the story. You get no feeling for the art at all. In fact it's all about words. Endless words shown on the screen (wordy posters, reviews, newspaper articles, endless captions) while someone talks over it, completely at odds with what's written on the screen.
It's coming to something when the most interesting and perceptive comments are made by some wrinkly old London auctioneer. At least he had a sense of humour!
Maybe there's something interesting to be said about Sam Wagstaff, but after this film I really am none the wiser.
Still, it's worth 1/2 a star for the tale about the concrete block and the museum lawn! We did laugh at that bit.