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robert mapplethorpe


New York photographer Robert Mapplethorpe created this self-portrait in 1988 during a time of deep personal and professional anguish. Not only was a major retrospective of his work drawing heated criticism from conservative politicians and others who objected to the overt homosexual themes it contained, but Mapplethorpe was slowly dying of AIDS, which was stripping his body of all strength and energy. Having lost his partner, Sam Wagstaff, to AIDS the preceding year, Mapplethorpe was now confined to a wheelchair. This photograph—published in ARTnews after his death—came to represent the crises that Mapplethorpe faced at the end of his life.

Gelatin silver print, 1988
Published February 1994
The Estate of Robert Mapplethorpe

©The Estate of Robert Mapplethorpe,
Used with permission
(Printable page)

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