Once the US curator and collector Sam Wagstaff had decided that photography was an undervalued art form, his appetite became voracious—an enthusiasm shared and supported by his protégé and boyfriend, the artist Robert Mapplethorpe.
In a new book, The Thrill of the Chase, Paul Martineau, the associate curator in the department of photography at Los Angeles’s J. Paul Getty Museum, describes Wagstaff’s nine-year spending spree on images by famous and obscure photographers. He even sold a late work by Jackson Pollock to buy more photographs.
A Getty show of the same name features key images from the hundreds that the institution bought from the collector for $4.5m in 1984; the Getty was dismayed to find that none was by Mapplethorpe. Due to open on 15 March (until 31 July), the show complements the surveys of Mapplethorpe’s work at the Getty and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.