Wagstaff: Before and After Mapplethorpe

A Biography

Philip Gefter (Author)

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Overview | Formats

This "admiring and absorbing biography" (Deborah Solomon, The New York Times Book Review) charts Sam Wagstaff's incalculable influence on contemporary art, photography, and gay identity.

A legendary curator, collector, and patron of the arts, Sam Wagstaff was a "figure who stood at the intersection of gay life and the art world and brought glamour and daring to both" (Andrew Solomon). Now, in Philip Gefter's groundbreaking biography, he emerges as a cultural visionary. Gefter documents the influence of the man who—although known today primarily as the mentor and lover of Robert Mapplethorpe—"almost invented the idea of photography as art" (Edmund White). Wagstaff: Before and After Mapplethorpe braids together Wagstaff's personal transformation from closeted society bachelor to a rebellious curator with a broader portrait of the tumultuous social, cultural, and sexual upheavals of the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, creating a definitive portrait of a man and his era.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • November 2015
  • ISBN 978-1-63149-095-8
  • 5.7 × 9 in / 480 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverWagstaff: Before and After Mapplethorpe: A Biography


Endorsements & Reviews

“This thorough, entertaining biography portrays a blue blood who charmed East Coast society but also loved to scandalize…Gefter captures the brilliance of that world and its decline in the face of AIDS.” — The New Yorker

“Gefter delivers the most persuasive account yet of how Wagstaff encouraged a small coterie of likeminded collectors—many of them gay, and several of them my friends—who raised vintage photographs from quaint curiosities to a 'serious' artistic medium. Mapplethorpe was the inadvertent catalyst of this historic shift.” — Martin Filler, The New York Review of Books

“Comprehensive and scholarly…Gefter's smart, sexy and eloquent biography of this commanding arbiter of taste and culture serves as a definitive and memorable portrait of last century's intersection of gay life and the evolution of the hobby of photography into a way of producing collectible fine art.” — Robert J. Feldman, Huffington Post

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