Mapplethorpe

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So, we were discussing Robert Mapplethorpe last week in class (I'm taking a portrait/lighting class!! :wink: my first formal studies in photography!) and I was pretty impressed with his work, his pictures are technically perfect. We discussed the controversial nature of his work a bit, but not too much.
Then, that same night I saw "dirty pictures" on TV which is a film based on the trial a museum curator faced because he wanted to exhibit some of his pictures back in 1990.
That sparked some heated debate between my gf and me....

So, what do you think? Art? pornography? where's the line? did he cross it on purpose, did he just want to provoke or did he really believe in his art?

I know I'm not posting any of my pictures here, but he shot on film and I really respect the opinions of you film guys :wink:

for those not familiar with his work, heres a little gallery.
Beware of the nudity (even though his more shocking pictures are not shown here... there's a lot of nudity)

http://www.mapplethorpe.org/selectedworks.html
 
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Mapplethorpe is one of my favorite photographers and easily one of the biggest influences on the modern styles of shooting. He also teaches us a lesson in the connection between passion and output. Compare the differences between his male nudes and his female nudes (the female nudes' URL needs to be corrected manually by removing one of the 'e's in it. My guess is that's on purpose.)

His portrait of the Black man's and the White man's heads in juxtaposition is maybe one of the best photographs ever.
 
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Art or not? I don't really care. Heck, I don't even know what art really is. I think the guy just follows his instinct and that's enough for me. When someone can express his inner feelings by the mean of a camera or with a brush, then it merits respect.
 
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Greg, how can you not find this photo artistic?
Exactly. And what's more, that shot is one of the latter ones. He had received so much criticism for depicting completely nude males that now he seems to be going the conservative route, not showing his... er.. soldier...:wink:
But if you look at that picture, there's such a strong sense of containment... the man is confined to that regular shape without being able to escape. Much the same of what he thought of not being able to really show all he wanted.
Brilliant.
 
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His flower stuff is okay, but his images of people are amazing.

I don't see the pornography in his nudes. I see more porn in the average glamor shot than I do in his work.
 
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I don't see the pornography in his nudes. I see more porn in the average glamor shot than I do in his work.
I couldn't agree more! I not a big fan of nude photography in general as it just doesn't interest me much. That being said I find very little inclination toward appealing to prurient interests in his work unlike a lot of "glamour" photos.
 
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Greg, how can you not find this photo artistic?
Okay. You got me. That is artistic, sorta, but I don't consider it a nude. The general theme has been overdone as well. There are a lot of photos very similar out there.

The reason I don't consider it a nude is that nudity isn't the center focus of the shot. Many, many of his (and other) photos concentrate on the nudity and "shock value". I believe the same "message" can be conveyed with the models wearing clothes. It is very difficult to explain. I don't want to start an argument. I don't want to censor it. I just wanted others to know my opinion. And that is what it is, an opinion. Others have voiced their opinions here as well. That's what this forum is all about. To me anyhow. Thanks for letting me express myself.
 
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Your opinion is both welcome and respected Greg! In fact, Mapplethorpe's work would not represent what it does without opinions like yours and others who disapprove. Even for many who do appreciate female nudes find it hard to swallow.

Er, so to speak.
 
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I do not believe that Robert Mapplethorpe was using his work for shock value. In fact, in the circles he traveled in, they were not shocking at all. However he was keenly aware of the social taboos of homoerotic imagery, and crossed that line without flinching.

The shock came from the reactions of some politicians, particularly concerning the post-mortem 1990 exhibit in Cleveland. I especially appreciated that event, because it challenged the notion that photography should know it's place.
 
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Your opinion is both welcome and respected Greg! In fact, Mapplethorpe's work would not represent what it does without opinions like yours and others who disapprove. Even for many who do appreciate female nudes find it hard to swallow.

Er, so to speak.
I didn't take anything to mean any different. I was just trying not to step on toes when I responded. Even if my opinion wasn't welcomed, odds are you guys would get it anyway!

I do not believe that Robert Mapplethorpe was using his work for shock value.
Below is one of my definitions of shock value.

However he was keenly aware of the social taboos of homoerotic imagery, and crossed that line without flinching.
No harm, no foul. Just the way I see it.
 
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I like the way he "defended" the stronger homosexual and S&M shots, he basically said that since he was a part of that group and those people were his friends it was really almost criminal not to take those pictures. He felt privileged and almost in obligation to do that. To portrait a whole side of society he had access to whereas the majority of the people didn't.
 
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