About this artwork

Philip Johnson was the doyen of American architects and architectural critics. In the 1930s he championed the cause of Modernism, although towards the end of his career he was one of the first architects to embrace Post-Modernism. He is photographed here seated in a dark leather chair, wearing his round, trademark spectacles that contributed so much to his puckish demeanour. Like a figure in an Egyptian low relief – hieratic and unemotional – Johnson has taken up a triangular pose, from the tip of his pointing finger to the back of his head and down to his elbow.

  • title: Philip Johnson
  • accession number: AR00154
  • artist: Robert MapplethorpeAmerican (1946 - 1989)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Gelatine silver print
  • date created: 1978
  • measurements: 34.00 x 34.10 cm (framed: 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
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.