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Thread: Mapplethorpe

  1. #21
    slumry's Avatar
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    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.

  2. #22
    tomalophicon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ottrdaemmerung View Post
    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.
    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/-KXOshskLcj...lethorpe_9.jpg

  3. #23
    Ottrdaemmerung's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomalophicon View Post
    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 think it's sexual, but I do.
    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.
    website | Flickr
    "Embrace the negative with absolution, your final positive reward." --IQ, "The Province," Frequency

  4. #24
    tomalophicon's Avatar
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    I don't mind if his photos are sexual or pornographic or whatever they are. I like them for what they are.

  5. #25
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    Was it Flaubert who said that a writer, in order to succeed, had to scandalize the conformist? (Il faut épater le bourgeois where bourgeois meant prudish, for sociological reasons we'll not delve into.).

    IIRC there was a sense of irony or even self-irony in the expression, it was about how to "help yourself" go under the spotlight: be controversial, break some rule, raise some smoke! (It will work). Somebody will attack you (that spreads your fame). Somebody will defend you. Do stir a controversy and you'll be noticed.

    Was it the case of Mapplethorpe's? (Nooooooooooooooooooo ).

    I am not particularly cultivated in photography. But I have to say that I know Mapplethorpe for his "controversial" work not for his more mundane work. Am I an exception?

    Fabrizio

    PS Just to prevent somebody saying something around the concept of "you have to be a good writer, or a good photographer, anyway, for the trick to work" I am not denying it, neither was Flaubert. I think he said this jokingly about himself during the Madame Bovary trial. It stick because there is a truth in it that you can apply to many situations. Flaubert would have become a Great without any need to scandalize the prudish. I'm not sure about others though
    Last edited by Diapositivo; 08-13-2011 at 04:21 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Fabrizio Ruggeri fine art photography site: http://fabrizio-ruggeri.artistwebsites.com
    Stock images at Imagebroker: http://www.imagebroker.com/#/search/ib_fbr

  6. #26
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    It's really easy to love Ansel Adam's beautiful images. Art of Maplethorpe is challenging as good art is at times.

  7. #27
    CGW
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    For some much-needed context, Patti Smith's "Just Kids" is worth a look. Always worthwhile surveying the world that "makes" an artist.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGW View Post
    ...much-needed context...
    indeed
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  9. #29
    tomalophicon's Avatar
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    Fabrizio, I actually think this doesn't historically apply to photography. I think the most successful are usually the ones that don't scandalise anyone.
    And Bill Henson probably will never work again.

  10. #30
    tomalophicon's Avatar
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    There is a also a great doco worth watching, entitled 'Black, white and Grey'... I think.

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