Robert Mapplethorpe, 'Andy Warhol' 1986, printed 1990

Robert Mapplethorpe
Andy Warhol 1986, printed 1990
Black and white silver gelatin print on paper
support: 570 x 475 mm
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 2008All Mapplethorpe works © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.

Room 1

Mapplethorpe first came to prominence in the 1970s, when he abandoned making sculptural assemblages to concentrate on photography. He used the immediacy of the medium to chronicle his friends within the New York art scene, capturing their expressiveness through a sequence of carefully conceived and posed images. As the works in these rooms show, Mapplethorpe favoured isolating the face or the figure in plain settings and using precise lighting to throw their features into crisp relief. 

Many of those whom Mapplethorpe photographed were key cultural figures. The architect Philip Johnson and the writer William Burroughs have rather formidable presences, while Louise Bourgeois appears gleefully mischievous. Some of the most memorable images are of the poet and singer Patti Smith, one of Mapplethorpe’s closest companions, whose memoir Just Kids 2010 recalls their early life in New York.

Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) was born in Queens, New York. He lived and worked in New York City.