Gun Blast (1985)
About this artwork
Mapplethorpe loved the adrenalin rush of danger and was attracted to the trappings, if not the actuality, of violence. He photographed himself with a knife, a rifle and a whip. Here he captures the moment after a shot has been fired from a revolver, so that the blast particles showing the trajectory of the bullet are clearly visible. Typically for Mapplethorpe he isolates the hand, gun and blast against a dark background and lines everything up in a diagonal that cuts the image into halves.
- title: Gun Blast
- accession number: AR00222
- artist: Robert MapplethorpeAmerican (1946 - 1989)
- gallery: In Storage
- object type: Photograph
- materials: Photograph, gelatine silver print on paper
- date created: 1985
- measurements: 50.80 x 40.60 cm
- credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
- copyright: © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.
- photographer: Antonia Reeve
The American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe became famous, not to say, notorious, in the 1970s and 1980s for his photographs of the male nude and sexually explicit, gay imagery. Although often considered controversial, Mapplethorpe tested the right to individual freedom of expression. These images were not meant to be titillating or obscene but beautiful in a traditionally classical way. His work, therefore, holds a significant place in the history of artistic struggle to depict the world as it is, with honesty and truth. His nudes, when considered alongside his portraits of children and flower photographs, show him to be overwhelmingly interested in the beauty and transience of life. Mapplethorpe, even when facing death from AIDS, affirmed the beauty of the here and now.