Essay Photographer: Photography and Robert Mapplethorpe

Submitted By vedeam
Words: 1595
Pages: 7

Just like poems, lots of photographers can be found in this world, they living in different ages and having numerous styles as well as when they are talking. But obviously each one of them is influenced by the time and the place they live, regardless of the aesthetic aspect chosen for the content of images. Robert Mapplethorpe and Richard Avedon were the great photographers affected the art and also the society. The images of Richard Mapplethorpe reflected a great deal of informations about the identity of himself, also the social situations, especially the gay liberation and the sexual liberation, and even the racial discrimination. The nude males, sex scenes, even the flowers he took were extremely precursor, some were debatable. However the photos were also traditional, which he considered the light arrangement etc.. Lively was a perfect word to estimate Richard Avedon's work. He tend to catch emotion, personality and the soul of the sitter. Not like other fashion photographers, Richard Avedon was trying to reflect the change of this society in his works. His images showed a new life of women after the World War ǁ. The word like “paradoxical” was often used to evaluate the works of Robert Mapplethor. They were traditional, but also startling and radical. He was effected by the environment he grown. He was born in a strict Catholic family lived in New York in 1946. His family influenced him a lot, especially in the format of his works. Once he said "A church has a certain magic and mystery for a child. It still shows in how I arrange things. It's always little altars. It’s always been in this way—whenever I’d put something together I’d notice it was symmetrical."(Ref 2, p133) He got his first camera—a Polaroid Camera in 1970 and he began hanging out with people from The Factory like Andy Warhol. It was interesting that Robert Mapplethorpe did not know he was a gay as he was a teenager. He realized that around 1970. He started taking pictures for his group like friends and contacts after he had acquired a Hasselblad medium-format camera from Sam Wagstaff who bought him a studio in Bond Street in 1975. “In those days Robert lived in a loft on Bond Street just a few blocks away from me in the no-man’s-land between the West Village and the East Village and north of SoHo.”(Ref 3, p128) The Stonewall riot happened in 1969 in West Village, this place was active area of homosexual. Looking back the era when he was living (1946 to 1989), he was involved in the gay revolution with an experience of the Racial Discrimination (start in early 1950s) and the Sexual Liberation (start in early 1960s). So the world had a big change right after and became much more open. People need something new, which Mapplethorpe did. Indisputably, Robert Mapplethorpe was extremely “self-absorbed”. He took a great deal of self portraits, and showed lots of roles of himself. He said, “I don’t photograph things I’ve not been involved with myself.”(Ref 4, p21) Obviously, gay was one of the most important part of his life. Looking at picture which he took in 1980. He was dressed in a jacket with fur scarf. Although it was in a black-and-white photo, it was clearly showing he wear red lipstick, eye-lines and mascara like a dressing queen. Drag queen was very important in Western gay culture. In the photo, Mapplethorpe looked at the camera directly with a faint smile, which seemed that he enjoyed this role. Instead of the jacket and scarf, he revealed his erotic nipples with same make-up. Actually in those years he was interested in S&M, so this image was influenced by the interest. He played a new role he wanted. Germano Celant suggested that the acting-out in his self-portraits unveiled the erotic-genital exploita and creation of the sadomasochistic world(Ref 5, p21). The nude male extremely attracted Mapplethorpe. He took numerous pictures about men’s bodies, and the most famous pieces were about black men. In the picture Thomas which