Robert Mapplethorpe

1946 - 1989 · United States

Artist biography

Robert Mapplethorpe was most prominent for his erotic black-and-white photography, as well as capturing S&M scene of New York city. Composition, lighting, shadow and form were the foremost aspects of all his work, which, apart from S&M topic involved flowers, nudes and celebrity portraits. His images appear to challenge the viewer and represent the classical aesthetic standards. For most of his works Mapplethorpe used Polaroid SX-70 and Hasselblad 500 medium format camera. Born on November 4th, 1946 in Floral Park, Queens, Mapplethorpe studied Graphic Arts in Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. In 1967 the artist befriended singer-songwriter Patti Smith, with whom they created art together and stayed close throughout Mapplethorpe’s life. In the early stages of his career Robert Mapplethorpe was influenced by a wide range of artists, including Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp.Though Mapplethorpe disagreed with the claim that his art had a rather provocative manner, his images appeared to be shocking to many, and caused fiery discussions on governmental level. His first experiments with art involved cutting images from books and magazines to create mixed media collages, as well as taking polaroid photographs. His career flourished in the 1980s’, when Mapplethorpe produced some of his most impressive art works: Man in Polyester Suit (1980), Lisa Lyon (1981), Ajitto (1981). The artist passed away in 1989 from AIDS-related complications. In 2019, Guggenheim Museum presented a yearlong exhibition called Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now, which celebrated the legacy of the artist and his impact on Contemporary Art. Today, his artworks are displayed in the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Tel Aviv Museum of Art among others.

Robert Mapplethorpe

  • Artworks in Collections 13
  • Exhibitions 19
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