Photographers You Should Know: Robert Mapplethorpe by Erika Jacobs

The work of Robert Mapplethorpe is as famous for the controversy it caused as for its technical and artistic achievement. His sexually charged images stirred serious discussion about censorship and public finding for the arts when he began a traveling exhibition funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Big Deal: His photographs depict a variety of subjects, floral still lifes, stylized nudes, and portraits of artists and celebrities. His most talked-about photographs, however, were his studies of the underground S&M scene in New York. Provocative images, including his “Self-portrait with Bullwhip Inserted in Anus” were part of the travelling exhibition that raised the ire of conservative and religious groups like the American Family Association. These groups protested the exhibition and managed to get it banned from some museums.

Life in Brief: Mapplethorpe studied graphic design at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, but dropped out before completing his degree. He began experimenting with Polaroids in 1970, often incorporating them into collages, or presenting them in ornate, hand-made frames.

By 1975 he had refined his style and began photographing friend and acquaintances with a Hassleblad. Interested in multimedia, Mapplethorpe works in photographs, film, and even set design. In 1986 he is diagnosed with AIDS. One year before his death in 1989, he founds the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, to protect his work and advance the causes he cared about.

 Joe, 1978
 Brian Ridley and Lyle Heeter, 1979
 Self-Portrait, 1980

 Ajitto, 1981

 Lady Lisa Lyon, 1982

 Orchid and Leaf in White Vase, 1982

 Ken Moody, 1983

 Calla Lily, 1984

 Ken Moody and Robert Sherman, 1984

 Patti Smith, 1986

 Thomas, 1987

 Lydia Cheng, 1987

Tulips, 1987

Trivia Tidbit: Was long-time roommate of artist and musician Patti Smith.

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Erika Jacobs is a Toronto-based freelance photographer and the co-creator of the Knock Twice blog, which is where a version of this post originally appeared. It's is an online resource to assist and inform budding creative professionals. You can visit Knock Twice here.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful work. "Bullwhip", while created by an artist, is pornography. I would have poured gasoline on it and lit it on fire, had I encountered it.

ApkRapido said...

The boundaries of such art images are very fragile, I often see such art on FaceBook.

Color Experts India said...

Awesome post!
Thanks for sharing your information about Photography

Etienne said...

Takes years to develop talent

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