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Grace Jones | Keith Haring

Grace Jones was 36 in 1984 when she, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, and pop artist Keith Haring all converged in Mapplethorpe’s studio in New York City. On July 24th they all got together in Robert Mapplethorpe’s studio for a photo shoot and Interview.

A few years before Andy Warhol introduced Keith to Grace Jones. He thought that hers was the ultimate body to paint.

The studio was located in 24 Bond Street and the session lasted 18 hours. During this session, Javier Porto, Mapplethorpe’s assistant was allowed to take pictures of the making off.

It turns out that Grace Jones had released her album “Slave to the Rhythms” and was making her way up the Billboard charts. That’s why Andy Warhol wanted to feature her on Interview magazine. But he didn’t want just any photo… A few years back, Warhol had met Keith Haring and for him, Grace Jones’ body was the perfect canvas for the artist; it had that same characteristic combination between pop and primitive.

There was always some rivalry in between Warhol and Mapplethorpe. Mapplethorpe got to the New York scene later on, and when younger, longed to be part of Warhol’s circle, in the infamous backroom of Max Kansas City.

This was the first time Haring painted Grace’s sculptural body, but not the last. This event started a series of collaborations. The following year, Grace was painted for her tribal performance in the gay scenes’ mythical club, Paradise Garage. In 86′ she created a huge skirt, also painted by Haring, for the music video of her song “I’m not perfect (But I’m perfect for you)”. That same year, he paints her for a dance scene in the movie Vamp.

Mapplethorpe’s final photos are interesting in their own right due to the union of different visions. Grace Jones’ body and gestures, with her capacity to strut like in the photos she did with Jean Paul Gaude, portraying a being between an animal and a human. Add Haring’s primary and instinctive strokes that make her look like a tribal queen, dancing for her gods. And of course, Robert Mapplethorpe’s eye and lens.

Text written by Frank Charriaut

Photos Robert Mapplethorpe, courtesy of Keith Haring Foundation

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