Mapplethorpe

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Alan W, Aug 12, 2011.

  1. Alan W

    Alan W Subscriber

    Messages:
    455
    Joined:
    May 16, 2009
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Is it uncool to view Mapplethorpe as porn,or do some people think that there's some artistic merit in his work(let's not even consider the flower stuff).Just read the Morrisroe bio.and was wondering what the general consensus is,I've got my own opinion,just curious.
     
  2. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I do not even understand the question, "Is it uncool to view Mapplethorpe as porn." What do you mean?
     
  3. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

    Messages:
    2,266
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2007
    Location:
    Metro DC are
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    2fer,
    I think what he means is...

    If you view Mapes work as obscene tripe masquerading as art will most think you have no artistist vision and are a redneck from some Tea Party state.

    That's what I'm getting but I could be wrong.
     
  4. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

    Messages:
    1,572
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Location:
    Canberra, AC
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    I love his stuff.
    I also love porn though, and I don't think his work is porn.

    Think of it what you will, if anyone judges you for it tell them to get F****d!
     
  5. Alan W

    Alan W Subscriber

    Messages:
    455
    Joined:
    May 16, 2009
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    This is exactly what I mean.Do people automatically pigeonhole you along with Jessie Helms.
     
  6. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

    Messages:
    1,572
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Location:
    Canberra, AC
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    And why can't porn be art? Some of the stuff I see is pretty damn artistic :smile:
     
  7. Alan W

    Alan W Subscriber

    Messages:
    455
    Joined:
    May 16, 2009
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    This is the question,why isn't porn art or vice versa?
     
  8. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I went to see Mapplethorpe when I was in college, right about the time when all the hubbub started. The only reason I went was because people were talking about it so much. I was studying photography and I thought it was something I "should" see.

    The photos were good but the pornographic nature of the pictures was a big turn-off for me. Did I not like the pictures because they showed naked guys and stuff? No, but they didn't add anything, either.

    I honestly believed that it was all a publicity stunt.

    To be truthful, the photos were good but I've seen some of you guys shoot better stuff that that.
     
  9. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,991
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Maplethorpe didn't just do homoerotic images. He also did portraits and still life. Art is in the eye of the beholder. The rocker Pati Smith that knew him until his death inconcidered him as an artist. I saw a show of his and I was quite impressed by the quality of his work. The thing about art is that it at times causes controversy. He definitely made the funding of art political.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 12, 2011
  10. Ottrdaemmerung

    Ottrdaemmerung Member

    Messages:
    258
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2010
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I feel Mapplethorpe was nothing short of a genius, and that he merits being considered among the great artists of the photographic medium. His most mundane work is easily as good as Weston. His explicit nudes and his floral photographs are so wonderfully executed that his still-life subjects look almost pornographic, and his aroused nude subjects look commonplace, almost mundane. This is where I think he excelled.

    Yes, there are other photographers that were/are as capable as Mapplethorpe (the recent publicity about Vivian Meier comes to mind, and of course there are many great artists here on APUG), but I'm sure Mapplethorpe's talent would have progressed even further if he hadn't been struck down by HIV.
     
  11. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    thanks.

    I don't know the answer to the question on a large scale. I wouldn't worry about it. Just react to the work in your own way. Nobody will crucify you for your beliefs. And if they do, fuggem all anyhow.

    I personally think that anyone who simply passes him off as a pornographer 1) isn't looking very deeply at the particular work in question, and 2) doesn't really know anything about his entire body of work. I don't know if that means they are uncool, though. Probably just very "mainstream."

    I think the work in question was very masterfully done on a technical level, and thus quite subversive given the content of the famous lawsuit pictures. It applied a very classical and proficient technical style to the subject matter of an underground subculture. Making subject matter most people are uncomfortable with look so gosh-darned beautiful is an art in itself, I think. And that doesn't even go into the deeper concepts of his work.

    This being said, you owe it to yourself to explore his entire body of work more comprehensively if all you think of when you hear his name is the homo-erotic nude pictures. He mostly did commercial work of outstanding technical quality. He did tons of still lifes, portraits, and standard (non-erotic) nudes. He was a prolific self portrait artists as well. In fact, I would argue that this was his forte, and that most of his work relates to his own identity in a way.

    And also, if you think his flowers are just flowers, take a closer look, and think about what flowers really are, biologically speaking.

    And it is Patti Smith who was close friends with Mapplethorpe. Patti Hansen is Keith Richards' wife.
     
  12. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

    Messages:
    1,572
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Location:
    Canberra, AC
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    Well said 4F.
     
  13. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,428
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Location:
    Rural NW MO
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I haven't looked at my Mapplethorpe book for years, but remember the photography as well done. Some of this was due to the camera work, and some to the printing. If he did the darkroom work too, he was certainly good. His choice of subjects sometimes seems intentionally shocking. He wouldn't be the first artist to use this for self-promotion.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

    Messages:
    701
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2011
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I think you might mean Patti Smith, not "Pati Hansen".:smile:

    He was a good technician certainly, but I dodge the question by considering all his homoerotic images to be, not Art, but reportage. I find Joel Peter Witkin to be more "artistic" because his images have more to say to me than Mapplethorpe's. I just wish I knew what it was.

    Smith has a book out ("Just Kids" I think) about her early years with Mapplethorpe. Apparently she mentions Mapplethorpe's affection for Rodinal in that narrative. (And if you're of a mind to, "Horses" is the album to listen to; Patti Smith Group at the height of its powers.)
     
  16. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    One of the most important albums to me. Pure genius in my eyes, especially considering the environment in which it was released.
    [video=youtube;xxygqSTO1lQ]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxygqSTO1lQ[/video]
     
  17. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I don't view it as self promotion at all, or as intentionally shocking or the sake of garnering an extreme reaction. It's more like self portraiture to me. He was providing a window into a world (his world) that was pretty-much totally off the public's radar. The homo-erotic nudes are more like "hobby" or "lifestyle" photography to me. Some people photograph their cats or their car club or their hobby. He photographed the human body as it related to a specific subculture. He did not make that stuff to further his career...and if he did, it was not a wise career choice. He was a sought-after commercial photographer, regardless of his personal work. His commercial fame gave him the fame to present his personal work, not the other way around.
     
  18. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

    Messages:
    942
    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    ahhhhh yes....

    dude, depending on your fetish ANYTHING is porn---underwear ads, when we were kids, was porn and used as such.....some dudes use shoe ads in glam mags...nudity is optional in porn.

    some mapplethorpes do show hardcore sex acts--porn?

    at any rate--I used to think his stuff was great and then I found out that he didn't do any of the printing---only the best printers did the darkroom work---just popped pics by the bajillions and had someone else sort them out and "make them perfect"....found this out AFTER I thought his stuff was good....

    that being said--they are quality images a lot of them and pleasing to look at--what else would you expect from the best professional darkroom techs work to look like?

    he woudn't have amounted to much if he wasn't sam wagstaff's "boy"....wagstaff set him up with equpment, space, darkroom services--finest in the world--and heavy duty connections in the art world and also celebrity/rich folks connections.

    Wagstaff got maplethorpe's stuff shown because he threw around a LOT of money in galleries...he was rich rich rich.
     
  19. Two23

    Two23 Member

    Messages:
    356
    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2010
    Location:
    South Dakota
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I don't care for his homo stuff at all, and view it as gross.


    Kent in SD
     
  20. M.A.Longmore

    M.A.Longmore Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,887
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Location:
    New York
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    .
    When I was a youngster, Clyde Muir, father of my best friend John.
    Tried to explain to me :
    " That it's not what you know. It's who, you know "

    I was only thirteen years old, and would argue with him for hours !

    Mr. Muir, Was Right ...

    Ron
    .
     
  21. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

    Messages:
    1,572
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Location:
    Canberra, AC
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    Elvis,
    I'm more impressed by his lighting, the way he poses his models, his sense of shapes and harmony within a picture frame and the general aesthetic of his work than I am with the printing, though it is very good, obviously.
     
  22. Ottrdaemmerung

    Ottrdaemmerung Member

    Messages:
    258
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2010
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As far as I'm aware, the Mapplethorpe photographs I've seen show no explicit sexual acts whatsoever, and flipping through my copy of his largest book (Mapplethorpe) bears this out -- although some of them do indeed show the erect male anatomy. As 2F/2F stated earlier, the vast majority of his work consists of portraits and still lifes. If one defines pornography as intending to elicit sexual arousal, then pretty much none of his work would qualify.

    I'd suggest that anyone curious about his work visit their local library for:
    The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, Mapplethorpe, Random House, ©1992.
    Richard Marshall, Robert Mapplethorpe, Whitney Museum of American Art/Bulfinch Press, ©1988.
    Or, if you prefer to not see any of his controversial photographs at all, books and calendars are plentiful that feature only his more mundane subjects.
     
  23. slumry

    slumry Subscriber

    Messages:
    127
    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Location:
    Washington S
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Mapplethrope as one of the most driven artist I have read about. Unfortunately, his subject matter was not of the type that has wide market appeal. He was a perfectionist who addressed his craft with a definite vision. He relied on others to execute it after he conceived of it. He did not print himself and at times let other press the shutter button. He had little interest in flowers; they were there to pay the bills and only engaged in portraits if it helped his career. The male erotic stuff was what he was interested in, however, when you see something like Carol Sea you really have to start wondering. It is worth reading his biography to get an idea of why he might be important. I went into reading it with the belief that I would write him off because of his subject matter, which I did not after reading the book.
     
  24. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

    Messages:
    1,572
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Location:
    Canberra, AC
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    This is the only one I can think of ( I can't actually confirm it's his or not, though I've seen it a few times with his name on it), others may not thing it's sexual, but I do.
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-KXOshskLc...js/4BBuhV84HEg/s320/Robert_Mapplethorpe_9.jpg
     
  25. Ottrdaemmerung

    Ottrdaemmerung Member

    Messages:
    258
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2010
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It is indeed Mapplethorpe's photo - I just located it in the book I mentioned earlier, Mapplethorpe (Random House): it's entitled "Helmut and Brooks, N.Y.C., 1978," and is on page 112 of my 1992 edition. The photo is undoubtedly explicit (like most of his photos of the sexual underground), though I still wouldn't call it pornographic because it's not necessarily intended to induce titillation. It's about form and symmetry instead of erotic arousal.

    But enough about definitions about what's pornographic and what isn't: that was the crux of the arguments and the unenlightened judgements levied against his work during his life.
     
  26. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

    Messages:
    1,572
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Location:
    Canberra, AC
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    I don't mind if his photos are sexual or pornographic or whatever they are. I like them for what they are.