Brian Ridley and Lyle Heeter (1979)
About this artwork
Humour is not something that we tend to associate with Mapplethorpe’s work, but this double portrait certainly has it. Unusually, Mapplethorpe has chosen to photograph these two men not in a neutral setting but in a cluttered environment of questionable taste. The implication is that this is where the men live. They are dressed in full black leather gear and the submissive seated partner is chained up and shackled to the bearded standing figure. The sado-masochistic ritual that is being enacted contrasts totally with the homey living room. The only pointer to darker currents is the table to the right made of deer antlers.
- title: Brian Ridley and Lyle Heeter
- accession number: AR00196
- artist: Robert MapplethorpeAmerican (1946 - 1989)
- gallery: In Storage
- object type: Photograph
- materials: Photograph, gelatine silver print on paper
- date created: 1979
- measurements: 34.10 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
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.