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Robert Mapplethorpe was born in 1946 in Floral Park, Queens. In 1963, he enrolled at an Institute in nearby Brooklyn, where he studied drawing, painting, and sculpture. He was Influenced by artists such as Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp, he also experimented with various materials in mixed-media collages, including images cut from books and magazines. Mapplethorpe quickly found satisfaction taking Polaroid photographs.

Two years later he acquired a Hasselblad medium-format camera and began shooting his circle of friends and acquaintances—artists, musicians, socialites and pornographic film star. Its been said that his work was inspired by his sexuality. He also worked on commercial projects, creating album cover art for Patti Smith and Television.

In the late 70s, Mapplethorpe grew increasingly interested in documenting the New York S & M scene. The resulting photographs are shocking for their content and remarkable for their technical and formal mastery. Mapplethorpe told ART news in late 1988, "I don't like that particular word 'shocking.' I'm looking for the unexpected. I'm looking for things I've never seen before … I was in a position to take those pictures. I felt an obligation to do them.”

Throughout the 80s, Mapplethorpe produced a bevy of images that simultaneously challenge and adhere to classical aesthetic standards: stylized compositions of male and female nudes, delicate flower still life's, and studio portraits of artists and celebrities, to name a few of his preferred genres

In 1986, he was diagnosed with AIDS. He died in 1989.


Here is a self portrait of Robert Mapplethorpe, this photo is a very well known photo of his because it was taken just before he died. Its been said that he took this photo to symbolize him dying.

This image makes me think of him dying, I think this is because when I first looked at this photo my eyes were draw to the skeleton in his hand. So he must of made his hand in more focus then his face which is looks like its almost floating in the background, which reminds me of ghosts.

I think that the lighting In this photo is from a studio light, and that the light was from his left hand side as you can see the shadows on his right side of his face.

The composition in this photo is interesting because two corners have the objects in (his face and the skeleton/hand) and the other two corners are just plain black.


Here is another self portrait of Robert Mapplethorpe. When I first saw this image I thought of the war, soldiers and fighting. I think this is because Robert Mapplethorpe was gay and wanted to show that even if he isn't straight he can still fight and stand up for his country. When I first looked at this photo I was drawn to the gun in his hand, this is the most focused part of the photo, I think he has focused the gun more then the rest of the photo as it shows he's serious about fighting for what he believes in. His photo expression also links to him being serious, as he isn't smiling he's looking very determined and almost scary. The composition of this photo is interesting because the star shape in the background makes you drawn to the centre which is where Mapplethorpe is standing.