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What kinds of issues have been fore-grounded in the debates around the black male nudes of Robert Mapplethorpe Did Mapplethorpe reproduce a mythical black masculinity or invent new ways of seeing what Kobena Mercer calls the homoerotic imaginary - Essay Example

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Depending upon the view, he is considered either one of the most innovative and uninhibited artists of modern times, or a publicity seeking, amoral destructive cultural influence. Even his death of AIDS in 1989…
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What kinds of issues have been fore-grounded in the debates around the black male nudes of Robert Mapplethorpe Did Mapplethorpe reproduce a mythical black masculinity or invent new ways of seeing what Kobena Mercer calls the homoerotic imaginary
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What kinds of issues have been fore-grounded in the debates around the black male nudes of Robert Mapplethorpe Did Mapplethorpe reproduce a mythical black masculinity or invent new ways of seeing what Kobena Mercer calls the homoerotic imaginary

Download file to see previous pages... The work, deemed homoeroticism by many, incurred the wrath of religious groups and politicians angered that Mapplethorpe had received public funding for the exhibits. Moving on from classical nudes of the 1970s, Mapplethorpes X Portfolio series (including highly erotic male poses) of the early 1990s garnered U.S. national attention when it was included in The Perfect Moment, a traveling exhibition funded by the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), a government funding agency. The event resulted in an unsuccessful prosecution of a Cincinnati, Ohio arts center which hosted the exhibit.
Perhaps the most controversial works produced by Mapplethorpe, undoubtedly because of their association with the issues of sex and race as seen through the erotic prism, are the The Black Book photographs of black men widely and vociferously criticized as exploitative by some and deemed nothing more than homoerotic dreamscapes by the artist. Not all critics, however, see Mapplethorpe’s photographic series in that light. Celant (1993) for instance, while alluding to the erotic nature of the photos, takes a far more aesthetic position, viewing the photographs as contributing historically and artistically to the appreciation of black cultural mythology--an area widely ignored. ‘A gratified serenity suffuses most of these photographs, as if they were somehow detached from the constantly self-renewing fever of desire. (Fig. 1) Literally putting black men on a pedestal, Mapplethorpe establishes them as calm sources of beauty, more perfect than flesh’ (Celant, 1993:1). In writing this Celant makes a counter argument regarding the prurient intent of the photos and supports the argument put forth in this paper that while views differ on the series, the works clearly present a variety of artistic intentions and should not be judged or critiqued based purely on their apparent sexual or homoerotic content, or, as been charged in some ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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