Robert Mapplethorpe

Brice Marden (1986)

About this artwork

The American artist, Brice Marden, emerged in the 1960s as a painter of flat monochrome works. In the 1980s, however, influenced by Far Eastern calligraphy and poetry, he had turned to a freer, gestural type of painting, of the sort that can be seen behind him in this photograph. The frontality and symmetry of Marden’s pose provide a strong structural centre in the image, set against the expressive, free flow of the painting behind him which continues on to his shirt. This contrasts with the earlier portrait of Marden by Mapplethorpe in 1976, which imitated Marden’s carefully balanced minimal paintings of the time in a more sparse composition.

see media
  • title: Brice Marden
  • accession number: AR00146
  • artist: Robert MapplethorpeAmerican (1946 - 1989)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • subject: Visual arts
  • medium: Gelatine silver print
  • date created: 1986
  • measurements: 47.60 x 47.10 cm (framed: 61.00 x 50.80 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.