Robert Mapplethorpe, 'Patti Smith' 1979

Robert Mapplethorpe
Patti Smith 1979
Black and white silver gelatin print
support: 340 x 342 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 2

This second room of work by Robert Mapplethorpe includes his portraits of some of the most significant figures in the New York art world, as well as sculptural studies of the male and female body.

The works in this display belong to a collection of international contemporary art jointly owned by Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. It is known as ARTIST ROOMS and focuses on individual rooms devoted to particular artists. 

Mapplethorpe drew inspiration from Andy Warhol, who became a friend and example. His striking photographs of Warhol, emphasising his shock-wig in the surrounding darkness, evoke an enigmatic but vulnerable quality. The particular fixity of Warhol’s gaze is shared with other senior artists in Mapplethorpe’s photographs of Willem de Kooning, Roy Lichtenstein and Brice Marden

The sculptural treatment of the photographed body, often reinforced by strongly cast shadows, was a concern to which Mapplethorpe returned repeatedly. It is seen especially in his nudes, both male and female, which balance classical poise with a sometimes challenging sexual charge. This direct quality is particularly evident in the images of Bob Love and of the body-builder Lisa Lyons.