Sex was fundamental to Mapplethorpe’s art.
In the late 1960s, Mapplethorpe began appropriating imagery from gay pornography magazines to produce collages and assemblages.
His turn to photography in the early 1970s coincided with his embrace of New York City’s gay sadomasochist subculture. It was important to him that people knew he was an active participant in this community, not simply an outside observer. “I was a part of it,” he later recalled, “some of those experiences that I later recorded I had experienced firsthand, without a camera.”
Ultimately, Mapplethorpe’s sex pictures are less about documenting erotic activity than representing it as a purified ideal, distilled to basic forms and geometries and subject to the constraints of studio lighting and meticulous composition.
This combination of unflinching sexual imagery and stunning technical mastery attracted widespread attention and launched Mapplethorpe onto the international stage.
Sex was fundamental...
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