Robert Mapplethorpe, 'Arnold Schwarzenegger' 1976, printed 2005
Robert Mapplethorpe
Arnold Schwarzenegger 1976, printed 2005
Black and white silver gelatin print on paper
support: 341 x 341 mm
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.

Sixteen portraits by the American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe have gone on show in a new arts venue recently saved from redevelopment.

Robert Mapplethorpe made his name in New York in the 1970s and 80s with his stark black and white portraits of friends and contemporaries, sensuous still lifes of orchids, and the sexually explicit portrayals of the gay and S&M scenes that have attracted controversy and attempted censorship.

The works on show at Dunoon include photographs of famous figures such as Patti Smith, Grace Jones and Arnold Schwarzenegger. There are also several self-portraits, including a poignant example made just before he died of AIDS-related illnesses in 1989.

The photographs are part of the ARTIST ROOMS collection, given to the nation by Anthony d’Offay and jointly owned and managed by Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland. Since 2009, thanks to support from the Art Fund charity, ARTIST ROOMS have been shown in over 40 museums and galleries across the UK, many in places which would not otherwise be able to show major works of contemporary art.

The Burgh Hall in Dunoon, a small Scottish town west of Glasgow, was built in 1874 and was the centre of civic life until it fell into disrepair in the 1960s. It was saved in 2009 by a campaign led by the architect John McAslan – designer of the new concourse at King’s Cross – who grew up in the area.

The exhibition continues in Dunoon until 8 July, before touring to Linlithgow and Perth.