American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe was famous for his photos of flowers, celebrities and, controversially, for his sexualised male nudes and images of sadomasochism. Mapplethorpe treated this wide variety of topics all in his trademark style: against neutral backgrounds with careful lighting in tight compositions. It was the first case in America in which a museum director was prosecuted for the art he was showing. The director was acquitted, but another show in the same tour was cancelled.
Robert Mapplethorpe: The Photographs
Robert Mapplethorpe - Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
New York - Boston Robert Mapplethorpe was born in as the third of six children and spent a comfortable childhood on Long Island. After studying painting at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and his first sculptures, Mapplethorpe turned to photography. At first, the artist created collages from old photographs, taken from magazines or books. This early interest in photography reflects the increasing influence photography had on the art of the time, as admired by Robert Mapplethorpe in Andy Warhol's works.
His demise at 42 from AIDS, during the height of the American epidemic, gave a tabloid stamp to the authenticity of his sexually transgressive art. And right at that time arose the political controversy that enshrined him as a martyr to artistic freedom: a Congressional uproar over a traveling exhibition and then a grandstanding criminal obscenity case in Cincinnati. His place in political history is secure. But how do his photographs stand up?
His work featured an array of subjects, including celebrity portraits, male and female nudes , self-portraits and still-life images of flowers. The homoeroticism of this work fueled a national debate over the public funding of controversial artwork. He had three brothers and two sisters. Mapplethorpe took his first photographs in the late s or early s using a Polaroid camera.