Robert Mapplethorpe

Arnold Schwarzenegger (1976)

About this artwork

The bodybuilder and budding actor Arnold Schwarzenegger poses in a space rendered theatrical by a curtain that cuts the image at the top into two halves. The curve of the curtain to the left is echoed in Schwarzenegger’s pose – his extended right leg and curved right arm. It shows Mapplethorpe’s interest in the classical tradition with Schwarzenegger’s exceptionally muscular physique reminiscent of Michelangelo’s figures in the Sistine Chapel.

  • title: Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • accession number: AR00213
  • artist: Robert MapplethorpeAmerican (1946 - 1989)
  • depicted: Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • subject: Nudity
  • medium: Gelatine silver print
  • date created: 1976
  • measurements: 34.10 x 34.10 cm (framed: 61.30 x 58.70 x 3.80 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
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms

Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe

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.