Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen and his husband, Henk van Dijk, have gifted the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam twenty-four works by the late American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (1946–1989). Among the pieces included in the donation are twenty-one photographs and three porcelain plates featuring photographs of flowers. “I have been looking at them for forty years,” van Manen said. “Now other people will be able to enjoy them.”
While the Rijksmuseum has approximately 150,000 photographs that were taken in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries in the Netherlands and abroad in its collection, it only has one work by Mapplethorpe, a portrait of Patti Smith. “Good Mapplethorpes fetch such high prices (and have been doing so for a long while) that they are beyond the reach of the museum unless they can be acquired through donation,” the museum said in a statement.
Commenting on the gift, Taco Dibbits, director of the Rijksmuseum, added, “We are deeply grateful to Hans van Manen and Henk van Dijk for their generous gift. Benefactors such as themselves enable museums to enrich their collections with great art that would otherwise be beyond their reach.” Mapplethorpe’s photographs will be featured in an upcoming survey of American photography that is currently being organized by the museum.