Robert MapplethorpeSnakeman 1981

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Artwork details

Robert Mapplethorpe (1946‑1989)
Date 1981
MediumPhotograph, gelatine silver print on paper
Dimensionssupport: 441 x 342 mm
Acquisition ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
Not on display

Online caption

The mask and snake help to give this figure the appearance of being a satyr or (its Christian equivalent) a devil - characters and symbols of debauchery that fascinated Mapplethorpe. The twists and turns of the body and snake combined are reminiscent of Mannerist as well as Hellenistic art, subjects that interested Mapplethorpe. However, there are other precedents nearer in time. Baron von Gloeden took a photograph in around 1900 of a young man dressed up as a satyr - Mapplethorpe owned a print of this. Man Ray also photographed a female snake charmer as well as a naked woman holding up a black, African mask.

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