Out this weekend is, Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures, a new film that comprehensively culminates first-hand accounts from those closest to Robert Mapplethorpe, to archival footage of him at work.
Retrospectively documenting the photographer’s career, the film reflects on Mapplethorpe’s relationship with Patti Smith, his challenging aesthetic, and his battle with Aids.
A frequent source of documentation (a full biopic is currently in production starring Matt Smith and Zosia Mamet), Mapplethorpe’s eye for the ‘other’ pushed the limits of photography in both his subject matter – frequently centred around sexualised imagery and homoeroticism – and technique. Particularly, the American lenser has been largely accredited for his documentation of the underground BDSM during the 60s and 70s in New York.
Controversy occupied the last few months of his death during the tour of his newest exhibition at the time, The Perfect Moment. A culture war ensued among the arts, American politics and activist groups such as the American Family Association. Mapplethorpe and many others encouraged debate around government funding for the arts, and the lack of freedom present when it came to the “obscene” and “offensive”.
A game changer for culture then – and now, Mapplethorpe’s legacy will endure for generations to come.
‘Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures’ is in UK cinemas today.