Magazine Horse is fascinated by the prolific career of Robert Mapplethorpe, already passed away. An artist who achieved to outline an unmistakable style during his short but intense life. The mixture of black and white in his works have put him in the pantheon of the most important photographers in the XX century, mainly during the 80s. Although some classified his work as pornographic, the truth is that provocation was never the aim of the artist, but the pursuit of “the perfection in form”, as he himself defined it.
Almost 30 years after his death, Los Angeles County Museum of Art pays him a tribute with a retrospective view of his work, named The Perfect Medium, which will be exhibited until 31st July. It reveals some of his first sketches, collages, sculptural nude bodies, Polaroid pictures, portraits, still life and his intense studies about the body.
Both X Portfolio and Y Portfolio, published in 1978, caused a controversy that marked the career of the New Yorker artist. The X Portfolio explicitly depicts images about sadomasochistic, homo-erotic and bondage topics. While Y Portfolio focuses on floral still life, most of which were iris, revealing high doses of sensuality and eroticism.
In 1981, Robert Mapplethorpe published Z Portfolio, in which he depicted nudities of Afro-American men that served the artist´s pursue of balance through sculptural bodies, thanks to the interplay of shadows and lights perfectly reflecting the duality which was defined by many critics as the photographer’s personality.
Although those were his most popular works, the LACMA has also collected a large sample of Polaroid pictures that show his beginnings based on self-portraits and Patti Smith’s photographs. She was his muse and partner at the end of the 70s, so the museum has dedicated her a whole wall.
During his last years of life, Robert Mapplethorpe established his career thanks to his portraits of personalities from the art-scene and the American star-system worlds, which led the artist to become a requested editorial photographer for distinguished magazines like Vogue or Vanity Fair.
The exquisite selection organized by the LACMA to pay tribute to his career, offers a retrospective that inspires us due to his skills to combine harmony, sensuality and balance through images that reflect the beauty with which the artist filled his short but intense life. Thanks to this effort, we can have a better grasp of the artist’s essence.
Traducción: Paloma Sánchez Iglesias