Robert Mapplethorpe

Patrice (1977 (printed 1992))

About this artwork

In this work Mapplethorpe removed the man’s torso, head and lower legs from the frame. Instead he focused the composition on the man’s groin (he wears a studded belted jock-strap), his muscular naked right thigh, leather-jacketed lower right arm and right hand, clenched in a fist. It is a highly structured composition, typical of the way in which Mapplethorpe used the medium of photography to create works with a three-dimensional quality. The strong lighting and stark shadows, together with the strength of the man’s stance and a sense of the unseen parts of the subject, result in a powerful and challenging image. By titling the work with the name of his sitter, ‘Patrice’, Mapplethorpe gave his subject an identity and individuality, even while showing him as faceless and anonymous.

  • title: Patrice
  • accession number: AR01138
  • artist: Robert MapplethorpeAmerican (1946 - 1989)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • date created: 1977 (printed 1992)
  • measurements: 50.80 x 40.60 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.