Maripol has been described as “the gatekeeper of ‘80s club culture”. Her effortlessly stylish one-take Polaroid images of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Madonna, Keith Haring, Deborah Harry and Andy Warhol document one of the most vibrant time of New York City’s artistic history.
A student of the École des Beaux-Arts in Nantes, France, Maripol first travelled to New York in 1976 at the age of 20. Within a year, she was taken on as a designer at hip Italian fashion label Fiorucci, where she would soon become art director.
Maripol took her first Polaroid photographs in 1977, and for many years she would rarely be without her SX-70 camera or its successors. She photographed the characters frequenting Studio 54, which had opened that year; Andy Warhol, Steve Rubell, Bianca Jagger, Jerry Hall and Grace Jones just a few names of many.
In 1979, Maripol met Jean-Michel Basquiat for the first time, and the two would soon become close acquaintances. As part of a developing project to record the faces of the ‘downtown underground’, the artist was featured in a number of her Polaroids. She also founded an accessory design company Maripolitan, partly because she was unable to find accessories and clothes she actually liked to photograph: many of her pieces would become classics of the period.
She is also known for Downtown 81, which was filmed in the winter of 1980, directed by Edo Bertoglio, written by Glenn O’Brien, produced and art directed by Maripol, co-produced by Mickael Zilkha and Glenn O’Brien and starring Jean-Michel Basquiat. The film was described as an ‘urban fairytale’ and was an unique document of New York City’s pioneering artistic and musical culture at the end of disco and the beginning of hip-hop and new-wave. The seminal exhibition New York/New Wave, curated by Diego Cortez at MoMA P.S.1 that year, featured an entire room of Maripol’s polaroid photographs. It would, however, be another twenty years before Downtown 81 would finally be finished and selected at the Cannes Film Festival’s Director Fortnight 2000.
In 1982 Maripol met the artist with whom her association would, aside from Basquiat, be best known, Madonna. The two met at the Roxy, and soon Madonna would be wearing Maripolitan accessories, most memorably in the video and cover for Like a Virgin, for which Maripol was stylist. The rubber bracelets and crucifixes which Maripol had designed became the most popular items at in 1984 the Maripolitan Gallery Store on the corner of Bleecker and Lafayette street. Maripol continued to style Madonna for her first MTV award, and Maripolitan became a successful enterprise, attracting the patronage of Andy Warhol.
After closing her company, Maripol continued art directing. As a stylist she worked on videos with Cher, Mylène Farmer, Luther Vandross and Elton John, before designing a collection of jewelry and t-shirts for Marc by Marc Jacobs.
In 2013, Maripol directed The Message, a 52 min. documentary about the artist Keith Haring, for his retrospective at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris.
Lately Maripol has been hired by many fashion houses, from Dior to Valentino and Hugo Boss to document their creations with her faithful Polaroid.
In 2006, her book Maripolarama was published, a survey of her work in Polaroid, followed in 2010 by Little Red Riding Hood. An example of how influential Maripol’s work in Polaroid has become can be seen on the cover of Taylor Swift’s multi-million selling album ‘1989’, a photograph of Swift edited to look like an original Polaroid, and referencing Maripol’s distinctive style.
Maripol’s work has been included in exhibitions at MoMA P.S.1, Fondation Cartier, Brooklyn Museum, Portland Museum of Art and the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, Guggenheim Bilbao, Dundee Contemporary Arts museum in Scotland in 2015.