Robert Mapplethorpe

  • Gallery

    • Photography 1973 to 1977
    • Photography 1978 to 1980
    • Photography 1981 to 1983
    • Photography 1984 to 1986
    • Photography 1987 to 1989
Patti Smith


The American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (1946 - 1989) pushed the boundaries of his medium with both his subject matter and innovative techniques. Originally trained as a sculptor, his understanding of the human body in relation to the light which reveals it means that his distinctive style possesses a classical quality that captures the stillness and the sensual qualities of the body in space.

His work was considered controversial for its frequently explicit subject matter, but Mapplethorpe triumphed over legal campaigns testing the right to individual freedom of expression. His work therefore also holds a significant place in the history of artistic struggle to depict the world as it is. The group of photographs in ARTIST ROOMS, probably the best collection in the world after that held by the Guggenheim Museum, includes studies of flowers and portraits of many of the most influential artists, writers and musicians of the period, including Andy Warhol, Truman Capote and Patti Smith, alongside iconic self-portraits such as the one featured above.

Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland would like to acknowledge the generosity of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, New York, both in the donation of numerous works to the ARTIST ROOMS collection (click for images, above) and in its continued support.

Close Modal