Robert Mapplethorpe


gelatin silver print
20 x 16 inches
edition 6 of 10

Among Robert Mapplethorpe’s most celebrated photographs are his portraits of the artists and creative people in his social sphere. His portraits of Patti Smith, Louise Bourgeois, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among many others, quickly became iconic, era-defining images of the 1980s. Lesser known, though perhaps no less important in the New York art world, was Ruth Kligman, an artist herself and muse, lover, or friend to artists like Jackson Pollock (she was the lone survivor of the crash that killed him), Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol. In Mapplethorpe’s image, Kligman’s body folds over on itself, an abstracted mound of flesh and hair. A striking image, the photograph possesses the restrained, simplified composition and beautifully controlled light and shadow that characterize Mapplethorpe’s most mature photographs of the human body. During his lifetime, Mapplethorpe participated in documenta 6 in 1977, and the Whitney Museum held his first major American museum retrospective in 1988, a year before his death. In 2013, exhibitions of his work were held simultaneously at LACMA and the Getty Museum.