On This Gay Day: Robert Mapplethorpe died in 1989

Photographer Robert Mapplethorpe died on this day in 1989.  

Mapplethorpe created large scale photographic works, predominately in black and white, that featured nudes, still life and self portraits. His most controversial works were images focusing on the underground BDSM culture.

The photographers work spurred discussions about public funding of art works and censorship. His work was noted for its homo-eroticism.

Mapplethorpe lived with punk singer Patti Smith for a decade between the 1960’s and 1970’s before he realised he was gay. They continued to work together throughout his life. In the late 1970’s he met art curator Sam Wagstaff who would become his mentor, lover and lifetime companion. Wagstaff gave Mapplethorpe the camera which got him interested in photography.

Mapplethorpe died of an AIDS related illness at just 42 years of age. Wagstaff died two years earlier also as a result of acquiring pneumonia arising from HIV.

His life was dramatised in the 2018 film Mapplethorpe, where Doctor Who and The Crown star Matt Smith portrayed the photogrpaher.

OIP Staff


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