Robert Mapplethorpe

David Hockney (1976 (printed 2003))

About this artwork

This portrait of the British artist David Hockney depicts him lying on a wooden structure, propping himself up on his left elbow so that his face is turned towards the camera. The picture was taken on Fire Island in New York State, possibly at The Pines, a gay resort where Hockney is known to have spent the summers of 1975 and 1976. Hockney’s pose, and in particular his wide-mouthed yawn, lend the image a light-hearted and spontaneous quality. However, Mapplethorpe has arranged the composition carefully; the lines and planes of the timbers and railings create a highly formal, abstracted structure in, and against which, the figure is positioned.

see media
  • title: David Hockney
  • accession number: AR01137
  • artist: Robert MapplethorpeAmerican (1946 - 1989)
  • depicted: David Hockney
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • subject: Visual arts
  • date created: 1976 (printed 2003)
  • measurements: 61.00 x 58.50 x 3.70 cm
  • credit line: ARTIST ROOMS Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. Presented by the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation 2010
  • copyright: © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.
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.