New York: Byrd Hoffman Foundation, [1976]. Vintage original 10 x 8″ (25 x 21 cm.) borderless black-and-white print still photo, fine.

The Byrd Hoffman Foundation was actually created by theater director Robert Wilson. When Wilson was preparing the American premiere of Philip Glass’ groundbreaking opera Einstein on the Beach, Robert Mapplethorpe took this portrait of Glass used to publicize the upcoming event, which took place at the Metropolitan Opera.

Glass and his partner Sam Wagstaff had begun visiting the apartment of Norman Fisher, “an upscale drug dealer who often traded cocaine for art… Mapplethorpe met other artists at Fisher’s apartment, which functioned as a salon of sorts, and… he began to photograph members of New York’s avant-garde — choreographer Lucinda Childs, composer Philip Glass, director Robert Wilson, and Brice Marsden.” (Morrisoe, Mapplethorpe, p. 170.)

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art owns an example of this image, but printed in a larger format, 19 7/8 x 15 13/16″ (505.5 x 40.2 cm.), signed and numbered by Mapplethorpe in an edition of five.

Although that print does have a 1976 date, it is likely that it was actually printed at a later time, when Mapplethorpe’s career had really taken off, and there was a strong interest in his work — and in purchasing signed and numbered prints of his photographs. Stamped on verso “PHILIP GLASS/Photo by Robert Mapplethorpe/Byrd Hoffman Foundation 147 Spring Street New York N.Y. 10012.”

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