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Robert Mapplethorpe Art

American, 1946-1989

Robert Mapplethorpe was born on November 4, 1946, in Floral Park, New York. He left home in 1962 and enrolled at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, in 1963, where he studied painting and sculpture and received his BFA in 1970. During this time, he met artist, poet, and musician Patti Smith. She encouraged his work and posed for numerous portraits when they lived together in Brooklyn and in the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan, a gathering place for artists, writers, and musicians in the early 1970s.

It was not Mapplethorpe’s original intention to be a photographer, and from 1970 to 1974, he mainly made assemblage constructions that incorporate images of men from pornographic magazines with found objects and painting. In order to create his own images for these collages, Mapplethorpe turned to photography, initially using a Polaroid SX-70 camera. Interested in portraiture, Mapplethorpe worked as a staff photographer for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine. He also produced album covers for Smith and the group Television, and at the same time photographed socialites and celebrities such as John Paul Getty III and Carolina Herrera.

Mapplethorpe had his first substantial shows in 1977, both in New York: an exhibition of photographs of flowers at the Holly Solomon Gallery and one of male nudes and sadomasochistic imagery at the Kitchen. Mapplethorpe’s diverse work — homoerotic images, floral still lifes, pictures of children, commissioned portraits, mixed-media sculpture — is united by the constancy of his approach and technique. The surfaces of his prints offer a seemingly endless gradation of blacks and whites, shadow and light, and regardless of subject, his images are both elegant and provocative. In the mid-to-late 1980s, returning to the sculptural use of photography seen in his early assemblages, Mapplethorpe created sensual diptychs and triptychs of photographs printed on fabric and luxurious cloth panels.

In 1988, four major exhibitions of Mapplethorpe’s work were organized: by the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; and the National Portrait Gallery, London. Mapplethorpe died due to complications from AIDS on March 9, 1989, in Boston.

Find original Robert Mapplethorpe photography on 1stDibs.

(Biography provided by Cerbera Gallery)

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William S. Burroughs (Stamped) (~48% OFF LIST PRICE, LIMITED TIME)
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Kansas City, MO
Robert Mapplethorpe William S. Burroughs Photograph, Silver Gelatin Print Year: 1982 Size: 9.8 × 7.8 inches Stamped verso Accompanied by Radar, Basel, Edition C.L.A.G., 1982; Text i...
Category

1980s American Modern Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Lilies
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Seoul, SO
Robert Mapplethorpe Lilies, 1984 Estate stamped signed (50.8 × 40.6 cm) sheet size
Category

1990s Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

Archival Pigment

Swid Powell - Robert Mapplethorpe Porcelain Plates, Orchid - Flower - Calla Lily
By Robert Mapplethorpe, Swid Powell
Located in GRONINGEN, NL
Black and white porcelain collectors plates by Swid Powell and Robert Mapplethorpe. The set contains the plates ''Orchid'' - 1987 , "Flower" 1986 and ''Calla Lily'' - 1984. All have ...
Category

1980s Japanese Modern Vintage Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

Porcelain

William S Burroughs, by Robert Mapplethorpe
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in London, GB
Gelatin silver print 9 3/4 x 7 7/8 in 24.9 x 20.1 cm Printed by Radar Publikationen and Edition K.L.A.G. credit stamps verso. Photographers credit stamp verso.
Category

20th Century Conceptual Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

Photographic Paper

Robert Mapplethorpe Baby's Breath 1/10
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Austin, TX
Robert Mapplethorpe is no doubt a founding father to modern photography. Through iconic black-and-white imagery, Mapplethorpe gained both recognition and infamy with his often-contro...
Category

Late 20th Century American Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

Paper

Patti Smith Horses vinyl 1st Pressing (Robert Mapplethorpe Patti Smith)
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in NEW YORK, NY
Patti Smith Horses Vinyl Record Album, 1975: US 1st Pressing featuring original photography by Robert Mapplethorpe. Produced by John Cale. Cover: Very Good to overall vintage condit...
Category

1970s Pop Art Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

Offset

Swid Powell Robert Mapplethorpe "Flower" 1986 Floral Black & White Plate
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Toledo, OH
Black and white porcelain collectors plate Swid Powell Robert Mapplethorpe "Flower" 1986. White circular plate with sloping sides. Photographic image of a calla lily. 12" in diameter.
Category

20th Century Unknown Modern Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

Porcelain

Moet Blade
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Toronto, Ontario
Robert Mapplethorpe (1946 - 1989) helped elevate photography to be considered fine art in the 1970s thanks to his uncompromising images rich in contrast, from beautiful to brutal and elegant to uninhibited. Mapplethorpe’s career was as glittering as it was controversial. Feted and vilified in equal measure, he ran a successful commercial studio (for portraiture and fashion photography) while simultaneously producing some of the most contentious (and beautiful!) images of the 20th century. His depictions of gay sexuality (including S&M and bondage) provoked a fierce backlash both at the time of their creation and well into the 1990s and beyond. This unique polaroid dates from when Mapplethorpe began to focus on pure photography, abandoning the collages of the first chapter of his career. It is also a foreshadowing of his curiosity and pursuit of New York's S&M scene. This unique polaroid features an opened bottle of Moët-Chandon with a sharp blade emerging from the neck. Typical of Mapplethorpe, there is his signature balance of formalist qualities, foreboding references, with a touch of sexuality and violence. Mapplethorpe's style is instantly recognizable: simple forms set against neutral backgrounds, a razor-sharp focus, and opulent, tonal gradations ranging from inky, velvety black to luminous silver-white. Although this is a unique polaroid, its sibling is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. We believe that our example is superior to the two; the label is mostly concealed which intensifies the shapes and composition. Robert Mapplethorpe mounted over fifty solo exhibitions during his lifetime, including numerous museum shows in the USA, Europe, and Japan. Since his death, his work has continued to be exhibited and acquired by major international art institutions. Questions about this artwork? Contact us. "Untitled" (Moet Blade) USA, 1972 Unique polaroid. Annotated 'PD 708' in pencil in an unknown hand on the verso. Original stamp from Mertens Framers. 4.5”H 3.4”W (image) 15"H 8"W (framed) Very good condition. Detailed condition report by request Provenance: Xavier Hufkens...
Category

1970s American Modern Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

Polaroid

William S. Burroughs (~38% OFF LIST PRICE, LIMITED TIME)
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Kansas City, MO
Robert Mapplethorpe William S. Burroughs Photograph Year: 1982 Size: 9.8 × 7.8 inches Edition C.L.A.G Carl Laszlo, Basel Gallery COA provided Robert Mapplethorpe was born November...
Category

1980s American Modern Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

C Print

Robert Mapplethorpe Botanical Porcelain Plate, Flower, 1986
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Downingtown, PA
Robert Mapplethorpe Botanical Plate, Flower, 1986 Made By Swid Powell The Robert Mapplethorpe porcelain plate depicts in black and white a flower dated on the reverse 1987. It is l...
Category

1980s American Modern Vintage Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

Porcelain

Robert Mapplethorpe Botanical Porcelain Plate, Calla Lily, 1984
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Downingtown, PA
Robert Mapplethorpe Botanical Plate, Calla Lily, 1984 Made By Swid Powell The Robert Mapplethorpe porcelain plate depicts in black and white a Calla Lily made in 1984. It is lithog...
Category

1980s American Modern Vintage Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

Porcelain

Robert Mapplethorpe Botanical Porcelain Plate, Orchid, 1987
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Downingtown, PA
Robert Mapplethorpe Botanical Plate, Orchid, 1987 Made for Swid Powell, The Robert Mapplethorpe plate depicts an Orchid made in 1987. It is ...
Category

1980s American Modern Vintage Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

Porcelain

Pistils - Robert Mapplethorpe, Photography Hardcover Cased Book 1st Edition 1996
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Philadelphia, PA
Pistils, Photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe with an Essay by John Ashbery. Hardcover in case and dust jacket – 1st Edition, 1996 Robert Mapplethorpe began taking photographs i...
Category

1990s American International Style Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

Paper

Gardenia
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Toronto, Ontario
Robert Mapplethorpe earned his place in the canon from his incredible output of images that ranged from beautiful to brutal. Mapplethorpe was one of the key artists who helped elevate photography from image-making to fine art. Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) fearlessly depicted the body (his own, friends' and lovers') in a way that positioned his work in line with masters such as Reubens, Courbet and Eadweard Muybridge to mention a few. Despite the sometimes shocking content of his work, Mapplethorpe's photographs possess a formalist quality with their undeniable beauty and strict compositions. From 1978-1981, Mapplethorpe created thirty-nine black and white photographs that make up his acclaimed XYZ Portfolios. While each portfolio is a distinct exploration of Mapplethorpe's signature subject matter, when combined, XYZ Portfolios serves as a definitive and in-depth representation of his mature and most sought-after, period. (Of the portfolios, X explores homosexuality and sadomasochism; Y features floral still life; while Z showcases portraits of Black men) Click here to see a portrait from the Z portfolio. In 2012, the XYZ Portfolios were shown in an exhibition at LACMA and presented in three rows (X on top, followed by Y in the middle, and Z below) as Mapplethorpe had envisioned them in 1989. "Gardenia" is one of thirteen images from the Y Portfolio, featuring a fragrant and graphic flower. Shot overhead, this tranquil image captures a delicate flower subtly floating in a dark, contrasting bowl. Aside from the flower's shadow below, the still water is nearly inconspicuous, contributing to the air of grace and elegance that this piece evokes. While the depiction is straightforward, Mapplethorpe's contrasts lead to a more ambiguous image; is this actually a flower or some alien specimen being examined? This powerful black and white image is a prime example of Mapplethorpe's work, highlighting his studio-centric practice as well as his refined and meticulous printing. This is a rare opportunity to acquire an iconic work by one of the most influential photographers of the 20th Century. Caviar20 is proud to be offering this monumental and important piece. "Gardenia" USA, 1978 Gelatin silver print Signed in ink by Michael Ward Stout and credited and dated on photographer's estate stamp, mount verso. 13.25"H 12.75"W (image) 16.75"H 16"W (framed) Very good condition Provenance: Xavier Hufkens...
Category

1970s American Modern Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Robert Mapplethorpe "Lisa Lyon" Photograph
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in West Palm Beach, FL
Between 1980 and 1982 Robert Mapplethorpe photographed Lisa Lyon culminating in "Lady Lisa Lyon" published in 1983. This image is separate from the 114 im...
Category

1980s American Vintage Robert Mapplethorpe Art

SILVER DOLLAR (COLOR)
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Aventura, FL
Dye-transfer print, flush-mounted. The photographer's copyright stamp, signed and dated in ink, and with title, date, and edition 'A. P. #D' in ink on the reverse. Frame size 30 x 33...
Category

1980s Photorealist Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

Dye Transfer

Bill T. Jones
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Long Island City, NY
Artist: Robert Mapplethorpe, American (1946 - 1989) Title: Bill T. Jones Year: 1985 Medium: Gelatin Silver Print Photograph, signed, titled and stamped verso Image Size: 18.5 x 1...
Category

1980s Contemporary Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Orchid By Robert Mapplethorpe
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Morton Grove, IL
Photogravure Signed Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) Black and white photogravure titled "Orchid" Signed in pencil lower right, dated 1987...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Modern Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

Photographic Paper

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Previously Available Items
Patti Smith Horses vinyl 1st Pressing (Robert Mapplethorpe Patti Smith)
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in NEW YORK, NY
Patti Smith Horses Vinyl Record Album, 1975: US 1st Pressing featuring original photography by Robert Mapplethorpe. Produced by John Cale. Cover: Very Good to overall vintage condit...
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1970s Pop Art Robert Mapplethorpe Art

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Patti Smith Horses vinyl 1st Pressing (Robert Mapplethorpe Patti Smith)
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in NEW YORK, NY
Patti Smith Horses Vinyl Record Album, 1975: US 1st Pressing featuring original photography by Robert Mapplethorpe. Produced by John Cale. Cover: Very Good to Excellent overall vint...
Category

1970s Pop Art Robert Mapplethorpe Art

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William S. Burroughs
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Kansas City, MO
Robert Mapplethorpe William S. Burroughs Photograph Year: 1982 Size: 9.8 × 7.8 inches Edition C.L.A.G Carl Laszlo, Basel Gallery COA provided Robert Mapplethorpe was born November...
Category

1980s American Modern Robert Mapplethorpe Art

Materials

C Print

William S. Burroughs
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Kansas City, MO
Robert Mapplethorpe William S. Burroughs Photograph Year: 1982 Size: 9.8 × 7.8 inches Edition C.L.A.G Carl Laszlo, Basel Gallery COA provided Robert Mapplethorpe was born November...
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1980s American Modern Robert Mapplethorpe Art

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C Print

LEIGH LEE / THE Z PORTFOLIO
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Robert Michael Mapplethorpe (November 4, 1946 – March 9, 1989) was an American photographer, best known for his black-and-white photographs. His work featured an array of subjects, including celebrity portraits, male and female nudes, self-portraits, and still-life images. His most controversial works documented and examined the gay male BDSM subculture of New York City in the late 1960s and early 1970s. A 1989 exhibition of Mapplethorpe's work, titled Robert Mapplethorpe...
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Robert Mapplethorpe, Altars Book
Robert Mapplethorpe, Altars Book
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Patti Smith Horses vinyl 1st Pressing (Robert Mapplethorpe Patti Smith)
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1970s Pop Art Robert Mapplethorpe Art

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Untitled (Whip)
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Toronto, Ontario
Robert Mapplethorpe (1946 - 1989) helped elevate photography to be included as fine art in the 1970's thanks to his uncompromising images rich in contrasts from beautiful to brutal and elegant to uninhibited. Mapplethorpe’s career was as glittering as it was controversial. Feted and vilified in equal measure, he ran a successful commercial studio (for portraiture and fashion photography) while simultaneously producing some of the most contentious (and beautiful!) images of the 20th century. His depictions of gay sexuality (including S&M and bondage) provoked a fierce backlash both at the time of their creation and well into the 1990's and beyond. This unique polaroid dates from the period where Mapplethorpe begins to focus on pure photography, abandoning the collages of the first chapter of his career. It is also a foreshadowing of his curiosity and pursuit of New York's S&M scene. While the subject matter may seem evocative of Mapplethorpe's work, it is worth emphasizing that he doesn't focus on S&M images until the late 1970's. His process at the beginning of the decade is also different from his mature period. By the mid 70's he transitions to silver gelatin prints and shoots almost exclusively in a controlled studio setting. In this image, the wrinkled bed linens are an important compositional element, just as is the proximity of the lens to the subject. In this tightly framed image, there is also an ambiguity of what the viewer is seeing. Are we looking at one body or two? Is the arm holding the whip from the same body with the exposed bottom? In later S...
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1970s Pop Art Robert Mapplethorpe Art

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William S. Burroughs (Stamped)
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Kansas City, MO
FLASH SALE until 8/8/21 Robert Mapplethorpe William S. Burroughs Photograph Year: 1982 Size: 9.8 × 7.8 inches Stamped verso Gallery COA provided Robert Mapplethorpe was born Novem...
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1980s American Modern Robert Mapplethorpe Art

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C Print

William S. Burroughs
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Kansas City, MO
Robert Mapplethorpe William S. Burroughs Photograph Year: 1982 Size: 9.8 × 7.8 inches Edition C.L.A.G Carl Laszlo, Basel Gallery COA provided Robert Mapplethorpe was born November...
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1980s American Modern Robert Mapplethorpe Art

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William S. Burroughs (Stamped)
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in Kansas City, MO
FLASH SALE until 8/8/21 Robert Mapplethorpe William S. Burroughs Photograph Year: 1982 Size: 9.8 × 7.8 inches Stamped verso Gallery COA provided Robert Mapplethorpe was born Novem...
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1980s American Modern Robert Mapplethorpe Art

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Robert Mapplethorpe, Some Women, Joan Didion, 1989
By Robert Mapplethorpe
Located in London, GB
With an introduction by Joan Didion 'Some Women' is Robert Mapplethorpe's breathtakingly elegant homage to female beauty. 86 full page black and whi...
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Robert Mapplethorpe art for sale on 1stDibs.

Find a wide variety of authentic Robert Mapplethorpe art available for sale on 1stDibs. You can also browse by medium to find art by Robert Mapplethorpe in silver gelatin print, paper, photographic paper and more. Much of the original work by this artist or collective was created during the 20th century and is mostly associated with the modern style. Not every interior allows for large Robert Mapplethorpe art, so small editions measuring 4 inches across are available. Customers who are interested in this artist might also find the work of Alan Herr, Dan Budnik, and Weegee. Robert Mapplethorpe art prices can differ depending upon medium, time period and other attributes. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at $122 and tops out at $45,000, while the average work can sell for $11,400.

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Questions About Robert Mapplethorpe Art
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    Robert Mapplethorpe was known for his dramatic black and white photography. The American photographer's nude portraits, self-portraits and scenes from New York City's S&M clubs are particularly famous. On 1stDibs, you can find a variety of Robert Mapplethorpe photographic art.

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