Online caption

This self-portrait is based on the famous 1974 photograph of the newspaper heiress, Patty Hearst, holding a rifle with the symbol of the Symbionese Liberation Army on the wall behind her. Mapplethorpe shows himself in battle dress (leather jacket), posing, rifle in hand, in front of one of his constructions, ‘Black Star’, 1983 which consists of a black-painted frame in the shape of a five-pointed star or pentagram. This particular pentagram is inverted (with one point facing down) and is therefore a symbol of the Devil. Mapplethorpe, brought up a devout Catholic, later liked to identify with the Devil because of his own ‘sinful’ behaviour. Thus, he becomes a rebel soldier fighting for a cause.