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(Enquirer) Pornography or Art? 25th Anniversary of the Mapplethorpe Exhibition

Posted March 06, 2015 in

"The Perfect Moment was never that. Not in Cincinnati, anyway. Or not until the end.

When workers began unloading a truck full of Robert Mapplethorpe's lifework 25 years ago today, the exhibit already felt like a gathering storm, a collection of challenging photographs and difficult questions about sex and sacrilege, art and obscenity, politics and polemics.

The show, titled The Perfect Moment, opened on a chilly April morning in 1990, and among the first people through the door of the Contemporary Arts Center were nine members of a grand jury who viewed the 175 photographs and deemed seven of them to be not just offensive, but criminal."

By that afternoon, the grand jury had handed down indictments against the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) and its director, Dennis Barrie. The indictments were the first time in the history of the country that a museum and director were charged criminally for obscenity because of a public exhibit.

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