Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium

Exhibition Overview


Self-po
Self-portrait, Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium celebrates one of the most renowned photographers of the 20th century, an artist who understood the medium’s ability to alter perceptions and push boundaries.

This comprehensive survey of Robert Mapplethorpe’s career features over 200 works, including floral still lifes, portraits, figure studies and erotic imagery that charts his involvement in New York’s gay scene, as well as a selection of archival material providing insights into his working methods and life.

An icon who photographed other icons, Mapplethorpe captured and shaped an era with portraits that immortalised the cultural idols of the 1970s and 1980s, including lifelong muse Patti Smith, fellow artists Cindy Sherman and Louise Bourgeois, actor Isabella Rossellini and musicians Debbie Harry and Philip Glass.

Whether he was photographing a figure, a fetish or a flower, Mapplethorpe pursued what he called ‘perfection in form’. The legacy of his unflinching quest for beauty has an enduring political and artistic resonance.

(Photo: Robert Mapplethorpe, Self-portrait, 1980, Jointly acquired by and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The J Paul Getty Trust. Partial gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by The J Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation. © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission)

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