Robert Mapplethorpe: Five Self-Portraits and a Legacy without Price

The photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1946-1989, American, died of AIDS-related illness.





Self-Portrait, 1988, platinum-palladium print.  Solomon R. Guggenheim, NY. 

The artist’s last self-portrait before his death.



In the three years after his diagnosis in 1986,  the artist organized the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to manage his estate, support the medium of photography in arts institutions and fund HIV/AIDS medical research.






Self-portrait, 1974, gelatin silver print in artist’s frame (light degradation).  Solomon R. Guggenheim, NY



The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY is mounting a year-long exhibition from the 300 photographs and objects which were a bequest from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation in 1993. 






Self-portrait, 1981, gelatin silver print (light degradation).  Solomon R. Guggenheim, NY



The artist’s own works for a half year; his wide influence on the works of others for half a year.





Self-portrait, 1985, platinum-palladium print.  Photo from the web.  Solomon R. Guggenheim, NY


The rich gender attributes the artist chose to express; 

his open assumption of his sexual orientation during a time of the deep closet;

his beauty; 

the control he effected over the standards of his work;

the debates about the publicization and public funding of his work;

his preparation for and courage in the face of his death


were and are instrumental in communicating the reality that there is no moral way of being human that is better than or superior to or inferior to any other way of being human.


Clearly,  all moral judgments come with the doing.


We are at Stonewall 50.


Let those who did more to expand the reach and expression of human freedom cast the first stone at his magnificent doing.  A legacy without price.






Self-portrait, 1980, gelatin silver print. Photo from the web.  Solomon R. Guggenheim, NY
















6 thoughts on “Robert Mapplethorpe: Five Self-Portraits and a Legacy without Price

    1. Exactly! What a fabulous slatheration that was, too!
      It is they who are forgotten and he who is remembered now and it is he who has enabled the lives of so many.


      1. I still remember that politician screaming
        in Congress, “Just look at the pictures!”
        I wondered, if he’s so outraged why is he
        telling people to look at Mapplethorpe’s
        pictures? And if he didn’t like them, he
        could’ve just not looked at the pictures.

      2. !!!
        He could not have not looked. He was a man and I watched the men looking at ‘those’ pictures. At the moment of looking, they were free and they were in their own country. It is an education for those of us who are not men or who have not entered into sexuality in this way.

        That is what outraged the Congressman. It is: how dare they behave like this in these photos? I can’t behave like this. I am imprisoned here in the House blah blah blah!

        A totally wonderful slatheration! Sarah

      3. Good point, Sarah.

        While one who sings
        with his tongue on fire
        Gargles in the rat race choir
        Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
        Cares not to come up any higher
        But rather get you down
        in the hole that he’s in

        But I mean no harm nor put fault
        On anyone that lives in a vault
        But it’s alright, Ma, if I can’t please him

        Old lady judges watch people in pairs
        Limited in sex, they dare
        To push fake morals, insult and stare
        While money doesn’t talk, it swears
        Obscenity, who really cares
        Propaganda, all is phony
        ~ Bob Dylan

  1. Another one, David, with the enormous legacy, explaining why and how we can be free!

    Marvel. Marvel. Marvel.


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