Skip to content


Famous for his celebrity and flower ‘portraits’, and striking, often intimate explorations of the human figure, Robert Mapplethorpe subjected all of his disparate objects to a rigorously exquisite value flattening: that a lily should be exposed as prurient, and shocking ‘deviance’ be revealed in classical elegance. And always, perhaps most recognizable, the exquisitely pure surface of the photographs themselves; Mapplethorpe’s mastery of lighting, grain, and depth of field all focus the viewer to the formal beauty and the intrinsic integrity of each object. Born in the rapidly changing post-war 1946, Mapplethorpe spent his childhood on Long Island, and he received a B.F.A. from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Robert Mapplethorpe died of AIDS in 1989 at the age of 42.