'Black, White and Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe'

With Valentine's Day looming at the end of the week -- don't forget your lovey-dovey gifts, boys and girls, or Saturday night might end up extra cold, if you know what I mean -- why not go beyond the superficial and consider the meaning of true love. Our friends at SnagFilms are featuring two "true love stories," and we've embedded one of them below in its entirety for your viewing pleasure (US only).

Black, White and Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe is an absorbing look at the controversial photographer and his longtime lover and patron. Mapplethorpe was transformed by art curator and collector Wagstaff, and their relationship was a complex one; Wagstaff's interest in photography was matched by Mapplethorpe's galvanizing artistic vision. The two men also shared a close friendship with poet / musician Patti Smith throughout the 1970s and into the 80s.

James Crump's doc features new interviews with Smith, writer Dominick Dunne, and many others, plus archival interviews with the two subjects, rare footage, and a bevy of gorgeous photographs. It's probably most illuminating for the focus on Wagstaff, a figure who is now forgotten but who, the film argues, deserves much greater recognition. The title refers to a hugely influential exhibition that Wagstaff staged in the early 60s.

Note: the documentary includes brief instances of frontal nudity (in photographs), so it may not be safe for work.