Orchid and Hand (1983)
About this artwork
A rather thin, bony hand, severed from the rest of its body, is stretched out horizontally, holding a bizarrely shaped orchid. The uneasy relationship between the hand and orchid can be felt but not explained. In this respect it is similar to the way that Man Ray and other surrealist photographers created unsettling juxtapositions between objects and bodies.
- title: Orchid and Hand
- accession number: AR00229
- artist: Robert MapplethorpeAmerican (1946 - 1989)
- gallery: In Storage
- object type: Photograph
- materials: Photograph, gelatine silver print on paper
- date created: 1983
- measurements: 37.30 x 37.50 cm (framed: 34.40 x 61.90 x 3.8 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.