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Robert Mapplethorpe

1946 - 1989 United States

1 Works exhibited

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  • About the Artist

Robert Mapplethorpe was an American photographer known for his black-and-white portraits and for documenting New York’s S&M scene. He was concerned with Classical aspects of beauty, whether in his nudes, floral still lifes, or self-portraits—light, shadow, composition, and form were central to all his work. “I don't think that there's that much difference between a photograph of a fist up someone's ass and a photograph of carnations in a bowl,” the artist said. While Mapplethorpe did not agree with the claim that his provocative images were “shocking,” his work came under fire from the religious right in the late 1980s for its supposed obscenity, sparking a national discussion as to whether the US government should fund the arts at all. Born on November 4, 1946 in Floral Park, NY, Mapplethorpe befriended singer-songwriter and artist Patti Smith while they were both living and working in New York. Inspired by the mixed-media approaches of Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp, Mapplethorpe combined Polaroids with cut text to create collages in the 1970s. He would also utilize different photographic techniques, such as photogravures and Cibachrome, throughout his career. One year before his death on March 9, 1989 at the age of 42 in Boston, MA from an AIDS-related illness, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York presented the first major retrospective of his work at an American museum. In 2019, a retrospective of Mapplethorpe's work entitled Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now took place at the Guggenheim in New York. Today, his works can be found in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, among others.

Works by Robert Mapplethorpe

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1982

20 x 25 cm

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