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[Crowd noise] [crowd noise] [crowd noise] [Reporter] The crowds were there. The cops were there. But the conflict wasn't. Instead the atmosphere was more like a carnival, with plenty of camp. [Crowd member] Hello! [Reporter] Mapplethorpe protestors were missing this morning. These folks were here to show their support for a show that's been so much in the news and so long in coming that its actual opening seemed somewhat subdued. [Crowd noise, applause] Judging by the amount of press here, you'd think that nothing else was happening. Judging by the police, you'd think there was no such thing as crime. But they watched and people waited to see the biggest draw the ICA has ever had. [Interviewee] Well, we want to see the show, especially since they're making such a big deal out of the censorship business. [Other interviewee] Well
I'm curious to find out what all the fuss is about. [Reporter] Had you heard of Mapplethorpe before all of this fuss? [Interviewee] Never heard of him before. [Reporter] What are you expecting? [Other interviewee] Oh my! Well that's the thing. I don't know. Some good pictures and perhaps a little erotic nonsense. [Reporter] Before today had you been to the ICA? [Interviewee] No, I have not. [Other interviewee] No, I haven't. [Other interviewee] No, it's the first time. [Reporter] Opening day at most shows, you'd find only the art world. But Mapplethorpe has become more than an exhibit. He's become an event. So much so that people assume you want their opinion on the controversy when all you really want is their sense of his art. [Interviewee] So they really made me look. Photography is a hobby for me and seeing something like that just opened my eyes, significantly. [Other interviewee] He's very design-oriented. You don't think of the human body as design. But I mean everything there was thought out and planned. He's an incredible artist. And I just loved it. I could stay in there all day.
[Other interviewee] Since I was an art teacher since 1928, I find it very beautiful and fascinating. And the compositions and the photography is exquisitely beautiful. [Reporter] Do you have a favorite image that's sort of lingering in your mind now? [Interviewee] I guess a recent self-portrait of his, where his face is in soft focus and is receding after his illness, and in the foreground his hand is holding a death's head. [Other interviewee] One photograph in particular of a black gentleman with white hair with a black background. And the angles, just the depth, it was really impressive. [Other interviewee] I liked the flower photograph a lot. You know it touched the right aesthetic for me. [Other interviewee] Lisa Lyon's bodybuilding picture. I liked that. I mean, I stayed in front of that one for about fifteen minutes. But that was my favorite, I have to say. Some of it surprised me. There were some pictures that I looked at for a second that I had to walk away from. It was a surprise. [Reporter] Walk away from some of the images. [Interviewee] Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I didn't think I'd have to, but I did. [Other interviewee] The most
shocking, in physical terms, I think the man who had his pinky finger in his penis. [Reporter] Were you shocked at times? [Interviewee] No, I knew what to expect. [Reporter] The ICA expects some seventy to eighty thousand people to see the show in the next two months. Which is more visitors than they'd usually have in an entire year. [Crowd noise] For the Ten O'Clock News, I'm Hope Kelly.
Ten O'Clock News
Viewers' opinions of Mapplethorpe
Contributing Organization
WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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Episode Description
This news footage covers the August 1st, 1990 opening of the controversial Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Boston. While art advocates successfully defended the nudity in the exhibit as an free expression of speech, opponents claimed the photos were obscene and should have been censored. This footage shows the competing protests over the exhibit during its opening, as well as interviews with patrons about their expectations and experience of the exhibit.
Series Description
Ten O'Clock News was a nightly news show, featuring reports, news stories, and interviews on current events in Boston and the world.
Asset type
Raw Footage
Arts; Demonstrations; Art -- Exhibitions; Art museums; Mapplethorpe, Robert; freedom of speech; Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston, Mass.)
Rights Note:Media not to be released to Open Vault,Rights:,Rights Credit:WGBH Educational Foundation,Rights Type:All,Rights Coverage:,Rights Holder:WGBH Educational Foundation
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
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Publisher: WGBH Educational Foundation
Wardrobe: Kelly, Hope
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: e9ff01d2732d05945921652fd77daf728e5662ca (ArtesiaDAM UOI_ID)
Format: video/quicktime
Color: Color
Duration: 00:02:43
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Chicago: “Ten O'Clock News; Viewers' opinions of Mapplethorpe,” 1990-08-01, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 26, 2024,
MLA: “Ten O'Clock News; Viewers' opinions of Mapplethorpe.” 1990-08-01. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 26, 2024. <>.
APA: Ten O'Clock News; Viewers' opinions of Mapplethorpe. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from