Robert Mapplethorpe (New York, 1946-1989, Boston) has created some of the most iconic, controversial and surprising images in contemporary photography. Robert Mapplethorpe: Pictures, an exhibition organized in close collaboration with the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, brings together 159 works of his entire career, from the first collages and polaroids to photographs of flowers, nudes, portraits and sexual images that made Mapplethorpe a of the most remarkable photographers of the 20th century.
Prior to choosing photography as a medium, Mapplethorpe studied painting and sculpture in New York and was influenced by the art of Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp, but also by the nineteenth-century photography of Julia Margaret Cameron and others, that he would become an avid collector. His first collages, assemblages and photographs (these were initially done with a Polaroid camera) reveal the growing interest in sexuality and composition - right angles, geometric forms of light - that would define his mature work. Working from 1975 with a fully manual Hasselblad camera, whose viewer framed the world in a square, Mapplethorpe begins to resort to long exposures and methodically arranged and arranged compositions in his studio to create portraits, nudes and still lifes, whose balance.
Mapplethorpe treated all his subjects with equal attention and precision, from sexual organs or flower arrangements to portraits of friends, lovers, celebrities and collaborators, transforming photography into a controlled performance between the artist and his subject. Controversial and classicist, Mapplethorpe's pioneering interest in sex, gender, and race is reflected in homosexual, non-heteronormative images of bodies, pleasure and desire, and in photographs suspended in tension - as in the totality of the artist's work - between emotive intensity and politics of its contents and the clarity of its composition.