Monday, August 4, 2008

Mapplethorpe - Misunderstood

Robert Mapplethorpe was a photographer who was known for his black and white portraits and controversial images. His dark imagery and sexually charged subject matter resulted in Mapplethorpe being held in high regard among some individuals while seen as a notorious deviant within other circles. Most of what he chose to photograph consisted of flowers, portraits and both female and male nudes. His 1985 horned Italian Devil-inspired self portrait was also used on the cover of a book of poems by Arthur Rimbaud called “A Season in Hell”.

His work appears to be very dark and brooding to me as well, but his photographs also capture a quality about his subjects that can only be truly appreciated in black and white. There is an intimacy and raw quality about his photos that pulls you in and you immediately develop a relationship with the subject. The fact that he chose to shoot his subjects in a stripped-down and seemingly unpretentious way symbolizes to me that he was attempting to photograph their very essence. Unfortunately, the world has to do without further artwork from Robert Mapplethorpe, because of his death in March of 1989 due to complications from AIDS.

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