April 10, 1995

Re: Statement in Support of Mr. Tsuchiya

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing as the President of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, IncDand the Executor of the Estate of Robert Mapplethorpe to express the Mapplethorpe organization's strong support for MrDTsuchiya's positionD

Robert Mapplethorpe is considered by many art scholars, curators and critics to be the most important American Photographer to have emarged in the last twenty years. His work has been the subject of over lOO solo exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout the world, as well as a far greater number of group exhibitions. More than 30 major museums in different countries around the world have acquired his work for their collections, including the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), the Victoria and Albert MuseumiLondon), and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), which is currently building its new photography program around a core collection of 194 Mapplethorpe photographs. These are museums are of the highest reputation, and they would not collect Mr. Mapplethorp's work if they did not consider it to be serious art of the highest quality.

The artistic value of Mr. Mapplethorpe's work is widely recognized in Japan as well. A large Mapplethore retrospective exhibition, sponsored by Asahi Shimbun, toured Japan in 1992 and 1993, and was shown at such prominent museums as the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, the Contemporary Art Gallery of Art Tower Mito, the Museum of Modern Art of Kamakura, the Nagoya Clty Art Museum, and the Modern Art Museum of Shiga. The exhibition received the support of Jqpan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Agency for Cultural Affairs (as well as the support of the U.S. Embassy to Japan). The exhibition and Mr. Mapplethorpe's work received wide critical acclaim, as well as tremendous popular interest. Again, the recognition afforded by these eminent museums and their curators, as well as the work's critical reception, constitutes substantial and compelling evidence that these photographs must be considered fine art.

Robert Mapplethorpe's international reputation as a serious and important artist is well-established and continues to grow. Another extensive Mapplethorp retrospective exhibition, curated by Germano Celant, the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), is presently touring Europe and Australia/New Zealand. The exhibition has appeared thus far at such eminent institutions as the Louisiana Museum (Humlebaek, Denmark), the Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe (Hamburg, Germany), the Museo Fortuny (Venice, Italy), the Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussels, Belgium), the Centro Per l'Arte Contemporaneo Luigi Pecci (Prato, Italy), the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (Israel), the Fundacio Joan Miro (Barcelona, Spain), the KunstHaus-Wien (Vienna, Austria), and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney, Australia). So far approximately 700,000 people have attended this exhibition. Most venues have reported record or near-record attendance and extremely favorable response by the public, the press, and art critics and experts. The tour will continue for at least another year.

Mapplethorpe's images have been published in a large number of trade books and exhibition catalogues published by major publishing houses in the English, Dutch, German, French, Italian, and Japanese languages. The major American publisher Random House is presently publishing a five-book series over the next few years covering every aspect of Mapplethorpe's work.

Numerous essays that acknowledge the artistic merit of Mr. Mapplethorpe's work have been written by such major writers and critics as, for example, Professor Arthur Danto (Columbia University), Joan Didion, Edmund White, Germano Celant, and Ingrid Sischy.

Robert Mapplethorp's work has received only one legal challenge, which took place in 1990 in Cincinnati, Ohio, an American city with a long and notorious history of attempted censorship. When the famous and very successful traveling Mapplethorpe retrospective exhibitlon entitledThe Perfect Moment appeared at a local museum, a local prosecutor brought an action on the grounds that certain works were obscene. Numerous experts testified in support of Mr. Mapplethorpe's work, and the jury found that the relevant Mapplethorpe works were valid and serious works of art, and therefore could not be considered obscene. Indeed, legal experts quoted in the press found the case so clear-cut that they considered it impossible, even if the jury had found the works obscene, that such a verdict could have been upheld by a higher court.

The book that the Japanese customs authorities have confiscated from Mr. Tsuchiya is the catalogue of an exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe's works in 1980 at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), one of the most respected and important art museums in the United States. The exhibition received tremendous critical and popular acclaim and was the subject of numerous press articles. The cataloque contains scholarly essays on the artistic value of Mapplethorp's work by the noted scholars Richard Marshall, Ingrid Sischy, and Richard Howard. It has remained in print during the seven years since the exhibition, and has been sold worldwide in English-, French-, and German-language versions. The sale and lmport of the catalogue has not previously been restricted by any government.

We strongly support Mr. Tsuchiya's position that the decision by the Japanese customs authorities to confiscate the catalogue was entirely unjustified, since the Mapplethorp photographs in question have been recognized around the world by eminent museums, curators, scholars and even legal authorities as being important works of fine art.


Michael Ward Stout


NEW YORK, NY 10019
FAX: 212-246-5291