by Robert Mapplethorpe
About The Book
The early 1970s witnessed the emergence and convergence of body art, performance, earth art, video, narrative, and photography-based art that sought to break the stronghold of minimalism (an art of pure form and materials) and conceptualism (the art of pure idea). In this context, Robert Mapplethorpe was an artist who infused art with personal reference, subjective expression, and allusion to real time and emotion. Among the foremost subjects and objects that Mapplethorpe pursued were the self, the body, body parts, sexual organs, and sexuality.Mapplethorpe’s earliest and most frequent subject was himself, in various guises, activities, and states of arousal that celebrated his ego, his body, and his sexual desires. The subject of nudity, sex, and self was a primary focus in Mapplethorpe’s work. Mapplethorpe acknowledged that “I was working with other peoples’ pictures from pornographic magazines. I thought it would be more interesting if I had my own pornographic images, so I got a Polaroid camera to make more images”.
The black-and-white Polaroid photographs that Mapplethorpe produced during the early 1970s constitute an in-depth self-portrait, intently and graphically exploring expressions, moods, postures, and actions that range from angelic and innocent to sinister and erotic. In addition, Mapplethorpe did not completely reject minimal and conceptual concerns, but transformed them into his own aesthetic. Autoportrait, the first publication dealing exclusively with Mapplethorpe’s self-portrait Polaroids, presents the artist’s most revealing attempts to wed the erotic and sexual with other theoretical concerns.
Autoportrait confirms Mapplethorpe’s aesthetic alignment withother artists of his generation, while simultaneously presenting Mapplethorpe’s singular vision that helped shift the direction of late-twentieth-century art.
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