Mapplethorpe invite card, 1990

Robert Mapplethorpe’s first U.S. museum survey culminates at the ICA after traveling nationally from the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. At two other venues, the exhibition’s homoerotic content becomes embroiled in a highly visible censorship scandal involving the National Endowment for the Arts, U.S. Congress, and conservative organizations, serving as a cause célèbre for both sides of the Culture Wars. The ICA’s determination to proceed with the exhibition in the midst of this heated debate testifies to its commitment to artists over politics, and to speaking out against censorship.