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Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe (2007)

A documentary on the relationship between curator Sam Wagstaff, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, and musician/poet Patti Smith.


James Crump


James Crump




Cast overview, first billed only:
Pierre Apraxine Pierre Apraxine ... Self
Dick Cavett ... Self (archive footage)
Dominick Dunne ... Self
Raymond Foye Raymond Foye ... Self
Jeffrey Fraenkel Jeffrey Fraenkel ... Self - Fraenkel Gallery
Philippe Garner Philippe Garner ... Self
Ralph Gibson Ralph Gibson ... Self
Timothy Greenfield-Sanders ... Self - photographer
John Giorno John Giorno ... Self - poet
Tukey Koffend Tukey Koffend ... Self - childhood friend
Robert Mapplethorpe ... Self (archive footage)
Jean-Jacques Naudet Jean-Jacques Naudet ... Self
Eugenia Parry Eugenia Parry ... Self
Ingrid Sischy ... Self - Interview Magazine
Patti Smith ... Self


A look at the life and contribution of Sam Wagstaff (1921-1987), curator, trend-setter, collector of photographs, and lover and guide to Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989), told chronologically with archival footage, photographs, and contemporary interviews. Wagstaff is upper class, handsome, and gay, reinventing himself after World War II as a curator, with extraordinary success. By the 1970s, he's friends with Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith, his mother has left him a fortune, and he's collecting old photographs by the score. Many who comment discuss his largely forgotten contribution to art - the discovery of photography. The film sets the record straight. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Extrmely informative yet a lot of surface
7 March 2008 | by HandlinghandelSee all my reviews

I want to proceed cautiously, as I know some of the people interviewed in this film,. It's essentially an excellent documentary about collector Wagstaff. His protégé Robert Mapplethorpe is far better known. To the degree, that is, that either is known outside the worlds of art.

The filmmaker worked against built-in problems: Many people involved in the art scene of the time are dead. Some have died of natural causes and many, all too sadly, were lost to AIDS.

Part of what he comes up with as a result is fascinating. For example, who knew that Dick Cavett had interviewed Sam Wagstaff on television! John Richardson's presence lends the undertaking much panache. He is a magnificent art historian and writer. And Patti Smith: Patti, we love you! I was confused now and then by unattributed voice-overs. For example, a woman speaks disparagingly about the relationship between Wagstaff and Mapplethorpe. I see a name or two I don't recognize in the cast list and guess she is one of them. But since she is almost the lone negative voice, it would have been helpful to identify her when she spoke.

Overall, though, it's a fine work. One Fifth Avenue is still there. The museums mentioned are still here. A few of the people -- Richardson, Dominick Dunne, Smith, John Giorno -- are still here. But the scene is pretty much gone. This documentary helps people remember it and keep Mapplethorpe's work, and the history of collecting and of photography in the US, in perspective.

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USA | Germany



Release Date:

19 October 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mapplethorpe, blanco y negro See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,815, 21 October 2007

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Arthouse Films, LM Media See more »
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Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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