One of the most iconic photographers to emerge in the 1980s, Robert Mapplethorpe injected a totally contemporary brand of sensuality into the field of photography. Though he gained much attention for his images featuring nude, often homoerotic, imagery (most notably the Senator Jessie Helms-inspired political uproar surrounding his exhibition, The Perfect Moment), Mapplethorpe’s work also included many of art history’s most traditional genres – floral still life, nude, portrait, and self-portrait. Here, a simple ear of corn becomes an object of pure, sculptural beauty through Mapplethorpe’s characteristic attention to light and shadow, precise composition, and accentuated contour. During his lifetime, Mapplethorpe participated in Documenta 6 in 1977, and The Whitney Museum of American Art held his first major American museum retrospective in 1988, a year before his death. Earlier this year, exhibitions of his work were held simultaneously at Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Getty Museum.
corn, 1985 © robert mapplethorpe foundation. used by permission. courtesy sean kelly gallery.