Robert Mapplethorpe

Truman Capote (1981)

About this artwork

The American writer, Truman Capote, is best known for works such as ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ (1958) and ‘In Cold Blood’ (1966). He was very publicity-conscious, ever since 1948, when he posed for a suggestive and provocative photograph to adorn the dust jacket of his book ‘Other Voices, Other Rooms’. In later years he was fairly reclusive. This photograph shows him relaxed, presumably at home, but by placing him alongside a strange, white sculpture of a palm tree Mapplethorpe manages to suggest something of Capote’s notorious eccentricity.

  • title: Truman Capote
  • accession number: AR00212
  • artist: Robert MapplethorpeAmerican (1946 - 1989)
  • depicted: Truman Capote
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Gelatine silver print
  • date created: 1981
  • measurements: 37.40 x 37.30 cm (framed: 64.50 x 62.00 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.