Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe Reviews

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November 22, 2013
Excellent documentary on Maplethorpe, Wagstaff, and a lot on their interesting relationship with Patti Smith. Some interesting stories from many. Thoroughly enjoyed.
April 4, 2012
I was very excited to watch this documentary, but unfortunately, I almost hated it. It wore me out, it focused on the wrong aspects of things, it's unnecessarily long and for someone who isn't familiar with either one of the two people this movie deals with, then this film doesn't do such a great job in delivering their greatness to the audience.

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.
April 3, 2012
Interesting, up to a point.
½ April 3, 2012
Well done doc about the rich art collector and curator Sam Wagstaff whose relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe has largely been overlooked. The film's handling of his photography collection,now at the Getty, is wonderful, and of course, I love Patti Smith. I lived in NY during part of the time covered, so I have a tiny bit of nostalgia.
½ April 3, 2012
great Insight on Sam Wagstaff & Mapplethorpe. Loved it. Loved Patty Smith.
April 3, 2012
Really more about Sam Wagstaff then anything else... I didn't know him at all, so I found it interesting. But the title is a bit misleading in a way.
April 3, 2012
super interesting. i couldn't love patti smith more, but she got some messed up teeth. i hadn't realized.
½ April 3, 2012
a bio of sam wagstaff - art collector, proponent of photographic art and new york scenester in the 70s and early 80s - and his relationship and influence on his lover, the photographer robert mapplethorpe. for fans of mapplethrope, it is an informative piece because it relates how intregal wagstaff was to mapplethorpe's success and legacy. any longer and it would've been too much.
April 3, 2012
An interesting film--one that sheds light on the complex life of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe. I really enjoyed seeing many of the photographs Wagstaff collected through his love of what is now known as vernacular photography. He really was a true visionary in that regard, and surely thanks to him many of them are around today. It was interesting how negatively Mapplethorpe was cast in this doc--would be interesting to know if it was biased in that regard or not. How sad to see all the great artists lost to AIDS and how devastating it was to the artistic community.
½ April 3, 2012
a nice surprise that the portraiture is actually more about Sam Wagstaff instead of Robert Mapplethorpe, Wagstaff surely had a great eye for all things aesthetic and eventually also being able to reaping a good price for his collections in the art market, the documentary sort of also having a demystifying and demythifying effect for Mapplethorpe's works while Wagstaff's entire collection of great photographic works at the J. Paul Getty Museum still remains to be seen (also eagerly looking forward to owning a personal copy of his publications that are already out of print), nice to have another documentary featuring wholly on the trio including Patti Smith other than Wagstaff and Mapplethorpe (30/11/2008)
½ April 3, 2012
Very touching AND intresting movie about the Art world and the encounters that change our lifes. The narration is perfect though the movie itself could have been more intresting visually. However, for every Art lover it is a must-see doc.
April 3, 2012
Interesting look at Wagstaff; how he came into his own, and helped propel Robert Maplethrope's work into the art world.
April 3, 2012
I remember hearing about Mapplethorpe, and his controversial works, but I never knew anything about Sam Wagstaff. Interesting collection of photographs. Patti Smith added an interesting perspective.
April 3, 2012
The patron behind the artist. One seldom gets a chance to get inside the head of a great collector. A fascinating peek into the sometimes sordid, always impassioned life of Sam Wagstaff and the 70s New York art scene.
½ April 3, 2012
Informative and interesting.
½ April 3, 2012
Wagstaff gets his due with this flick. His eye for what made a great photograph is something to be envied.
½ April 3, 2012
I was touched most by the cascade of names that went across the screen at the end of the film - artists that were lost to AIDS. A whole generation of American artists that never got to fully realize their potential. So sad.
April 3, 2012
loved it. learned so much.
½ April 3, 2012
A horribly amateur, old fashioned, unperceptive, wordy, wordy, wordy film about the US art market rather than about art or artists.

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.
April 3, 2012
You may not be the things you own, but you ARE the things you collect. Fascinating people.
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