Like many artists, Mapplethorpe used the time-honored genre of still life to practice and demonstrate his technical virtuosity.
Mapplethorpe’s first still lifes, taken with a Polaroid camera, were casual observations of domestic objects.
Later, he became well-known for his exceptionally pristine still lifes of sculpture and floral arrangements.
While he claimed to have no particular liking for flowers as such, he relished the opportunity to use them to experiment with form and composition. He was also aware of their symbolic associations with sexuality and transience, and knew that he could reach a wider market with his flower pictures than with his sexually explicit subjects.
Mapplethorpe revived the staid genre of floral still life, transforming it into an important contemporary theme. Exquisitely composed and meticulously lit, his flowers appear frozen in space. Every detail is carefully considered, including the choice of vase, which typically came from the artist’s own collection.
He controlled everything...
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