Setting ninety-two of the artist's works amidst the likes of David, one of the world's most famous studies of physical form underlines the similar emphasis on perfection evident in Mapplethorpe's own ceaseless attempts to capture physical beauty.
The title of the exhibition, which is curated by Franca Falletti and Jonathan Nelson, comes directly from the late photographer's own description of artistic intent: "I am looking for perfection in form". The photographs are divided into five groups; four on display in the special exhibition area, and one displayed separately, inside the main body of the museum. Each group tackles a different aspect of Form, the overarching concept valourized by Mapplethorpe's work.
Several of the photographs are displayed next to works by Michelangelo (four drawings and a sketch, in addition to two statues — David and the Four Prisoners — and the painting Venus and Cupid) and near the Rape of the Sabines, by Giambologna. In his lifetime, Mapplethorpe knew many of the artists at the centre of New York's contemporary art scene, including Brice Marden, Ettore Spalletti and Andy Warhol. As influences and contemporaries of the artist, then, some of their works may be found on display at the exhibition along with Mapplethorpe's.