“Perfection means you don’t question anything about the photograph. There are certain pictures I’ve taken in which you really can’t move that leaf or that hand. It’s where it should be, and you can’t say it could have been there. There is nothing to question as in a great painting. I often have trouble with contemporary art because I find it’s not perfect. It doesn’t have to be anatomically correct to be perfect either. A Picasso portrait is perfect. It’s just not questionable. In the best of my pictures, there’s nothing to question – it’s just there.” …. Robert Mapplethorpe
It is not every day that I visit an exhibition’s with warnings to its visitors of sexually-explicit content, and in Robert Mapplethorpe’s case the warning is not exaggerated. Today I visited the exhibition “On The Edge” by Robert Mapplethorpe’s (1946-1989) at the Aros Museum in Aarhus. And boy, was I blown away, the photos in this blog is taken from my visit, they are deliberately kept in a non-reproductive style, and I urge you to visit the exhibition in real life or at the very least, study his pictures online to get a real impression of the photos.
Mapplethorpe created many stunning black-and-white images of people struggling in a world that was hostile towards them because of their sexuality. Through master photography he portrayed the underground sadomasochistic and often homosexual culture in the late 1960 and 1970.
His works reaches much further than erect genitals and Parrot Tulips, messages is pounded into your head, strong compositions and multi leveled stories gives a lasting impression. Mapplethorpe’s homosexual lifestyle is a clear statement in his nudes, implicative sexual power, classical male beauty, lifts his photos from just being provocative to strong statements.
Perhaps the photo that impacted me the most was the one of “Ken moody and Robert sherman1984” where Mapplethorpe juxtaposes a male of color with a white male. Seeing the black and white photo, with a black and white model, one with closed eyes, one with open, one in front one behind makes the mind come up new interpretations.
Extravagant juxtaposing of black and white, seems to be played strong with most of Mapplethorpe works. Look at the contrast with the dancing-couple (Robert Mapplethorpe’s Thomas and Dovanna (1986)), she dressed in white, him naked. Colored against white.
There is an interesting balance achieved through the positioning of the figures. The background, and the linear pattern of light which originates from the right side of the image. Thomas’ dark leg and arm overlap with Dovanna’s white dress similarly to the way that the pattern of light contains both dark shadows and light streaks.