Many people know the name Robert Mapplethorpe and the fact that he took some pretty rude photos. However, the man himself has become somewhat lost in the mix. Indeed, perhaps the best known thing about him happened after he died. His exhibition The Perfect Moment caused protests in many of the cities it travelled to in the US, which launched a national conversation about whether the government should subsidise such ‘shocking’ art. It also resulted in a court case that tried to convict one of the exhibition spaces showing The Perfect Moment with obscenity.
That’s not the only thing that’s tended to obscure the man behind the myth, as well as meaning many people know little about the breadth of his art. Other things that sometimes overshadow a fuller appreciation of Mapplethorpe include his relationship with Patti Smith, as well as particular images that tend to overwhelm everything around them (such as the infamous self-portrait where he has a bullwhip stuck up his ass). Indeed, many watching this documentary may be surprised about how many his non-sexual images they recognise, without knowing he was the man behind them. If nothing else, Look At The Pictures is testament to what a good photographer he was. [Read more…]