Robert Mapplethorpe

Alan Lynes (1979)

About this artwork

Alan Lynes was a dancer with Erick Hawkins Company and his own company, Sundance. The rope may be part of the bondage practices of sado-masochistic sex, but here, in connection with the dancing pose and plaited hair, the main reference point is to the dancing satyr (half-man, half-animal) of ancient Greek mythology, such as one can see on classical vases. This relates to Mapplethorpe’s interest in classical art, which influenced many of his nudes. He was also an avid collector of vases. Formally, the image is an exercise in curves and arabesques.

  • title: Alan Lynes
  • accession number: AR00197
  • artist: Robert MapplethorpeAmerican (1946 - 1989)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Gelatine silver print
  • 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
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.