Who is Robert Mapplethorpe?
Mapplethorpe was interested in the value of beauty within his images, he used sublime composition, and cinematic lighting with high contrast levels that made his subjects stand out and his work be noticed, whether it was a Portrait, Flower or naked model his use of dramatic lighting and staged poses showed the beauty with in all of his subjects.
In this image, the dark contrast and the pool of light that falls dramatically upon the model gives the image a dark dungeon-like feeling, and the masked subject a domineering look. Mapplethorpe quoted “I’m looking for perfection in form. I do it with portraits. I do it with cocks. I do it with flowers. It’s not different from one subject to the next. I am trying to capture what could be Sculpture”. Some of his work was considered being on the edge of pornographic, and even though he did not set out to be an explicit advocate for gay rights, his work took him in that direction and Mapplethorpe was a visible member of New York gay community, at a time when social and political spheres were undergoing massive change. It was a time in the 1960s 1970s and 1980s when the world was moving so fast and going through a vital phase of social and artistic experimentation, there were anti-war protests, the civil right movements, women’s liberation, and of course the gay rights, all of this contributed to a radical transformation of the city of New York and enabled some of the most exciting part of the 20th century, which meant Mapplethorpe was producing work that was distinct of its time and place.