Robert Mapplethorpe


Perhaps one of the most famous and controversial artists to emerge from the late 1970s and 1980s, it is nearly impossible to overestimate the impact of Robert Mapplethorpe's work, both artistically and socially. He was born in 1946 in Floral Park, New York, and earned a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he produced artwork in a variety of media, mainly collage. In the 1970s, photography became his main medium and his subject matter included portraits of artists, socialites, and members of the S&M community. During the 1980s, his work shifted to emphasize classical formal beauty, concentrating on male and female nudes, flowers, still lifes, and formal portraits. Mapplethorpe died from AIDS on March 9, 1989, in Boston, at 42. Since that time, his work has been the subject of innumerable exhibitions throughout the world, including major museum traveling retrospectives. His vast, provocative, and powerful body of work has established him as one of the most important artists of the twentieth century.