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Robert Mapplethorpe Biography and his association to Photography - Research Paper Example

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Robert Mapplethorpe: Biography Date Robert Mapplethorpe Robert Mapplethorpe is an American photographer who was born on November 4, 1946 at Floral Park, New York (, par. 1). He studied drawing, painting and sculpture at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn but dropped out in 1969 before finishing his degree…
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Robert Mapplethorpe Biography and his association to Photography
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Download file to see previous pages In 1973, the Light Gallery in New York City mounted his first solo gallery exhibition, "Polaroids." Later, he acquired a Hasselblad 2 ? inch medium-format camera which he used to shoot his circle of friends and acquaintances including artists, musicians, socialites, pornographic film stars, and members of the S & M underground movements he was associated with (Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, par.3). To produce sleeky, ravishing effects and gleaming surfaces, Mapplethorpe used traditional techniques of direct lightning and sharp focus. During the early seventies, Mapplethorpe’s desire to expand the technical and aesthetic boundaries of traditional photography made him use different printing materials and surfaces and unconventional forms of matting, framing, and glazing. He would also attempt to manipulate the photographic reproduction process in his Model Parade. “In this work, Mapplethorpe applied a synthetic emulsion to two pages from a male physique magazine in order to lift the image and its color. He then transferred the dried emulsion onto the canvas, adding color and stretching and distorting the image as he arranged it” (Marshall, par.3). In 1987, in his series of platinum prints on linen, he would use this process again in making a painting on canvas from a printed photograph. Mapplethorpe became controversial when he documented in his work New York's gay community in the late 1970s. His photographs explicitly depicted sexual organs and bondage equipment. His subjects also included homoerotic and sadomasochistic images which are often glamorized and disturbing. However according to Levinson, “Mapplethorpe's art always revealed the humanity and emotions of his subjects behind their leather, spikes, and chains” (Levinson, par.4). Some sectors of society viewed his works as pornographic. Likewise, Morrisoe, who was able to interview Mapplethorpe several times, even one month prior to his death, said that “Mapplethorpe painted himself as a creature of the night – ‘a sex demon’ – who had no control over his voracious appetite” (Morrisoe, xv). In the 80s, Mapplethorpe produced several images that either challenge or adhere to classical aesthetic standards. He photographed stylized compositions of male and female nudes, flower still lifes, and studio portraits of artists and celebrities. He introduced and refined different techniques and formats, including color 20" x 24" Polaroids, photogravures, platinum prints on paper and linen, Cibachrome and dye transfer color prints (Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, par.5). . Calla lilies and orchids are the favorite flower subjects of Mapplethorpe. His flowers are as carefully positioned to display a raw sexuality even more powerful than that of his nudes (Mapplethorne and Ashbery, 1996). “His treatment of the male and female aspects of the calla lily is most striking, one photograph emphasizing the flower's phallic stamen, another emphasizing its feminine curves” (Levinson, par.15). Even the size and vibrant colors of the prints of his flower photographs exudes sensuality. One of his favorite human subjects was Patti Smith, a poet and a singer and a close friend with whom she lived with from 1967 to 1974. His portraits of Smith captured her loneliness, independence, sensitivity and wildness (Levinson, par.20). In addition, it was revealed that Mapplethorpe’s earliest and most frequent subject was himself “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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