04/16/2007 09:51 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Sam Wagstaff Remembered: The Curator And Collector As Subject

"I think Sam Wagstaff was an amazing tastemaker and he brought a really unique vision to collecting photographic objects, which is still playing itself out in the collector's market today."
- Director James Crump

Black White + Gray examines the symbiotic relationship between influential curator and collector Sam Wagstaff and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in New York during the heady years of the 1970s and 1980s. The film peers intensively into Mapplethorpe's love affair with Wagstaff, and his rapid ascendancy in the art world with Wagstaff's forceful patronage and guidance. At the time their romance began, Mapplethorpe was 26 years old--twenty five years younger than Wagstaff, 51--and leaving the loft apartment he shared with Patti Smith near the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd Street. Both men shared the exact same birthdate, November 4, an uncanny fact of this duo of near polar opposites. The film explores the strong bond of friendship both men shared with Smith in this period, also marked by Smith's first recording triumph, "Horses," her debut album from 1975.

Photo by Francesco Scavullo and text from