Robert Mapplethorpe

Bob Love (1979)

About this artwork

This photograph is from a series of images of black men in which Mapplethorpe celebrated the sculptural beauty of the human form. It was published in Mapplethorpe’s ‘The Black Book’ in 1986. In ‘Bob Love’ the naked sitter is posed like a sculpture on a pedestal draped with a twisted white sheet, his legs spread, in a candid and frontal study of the male form. The artist’s fascination with classical and antique sculpture is evident in his use of light and shadow to create a sense of three-dimensionality in these works. In his photographs of black male nudes Mapplethorpe confronted questions of racial stereotypes and his images have been critiqued for their emphasis on muscular, sculpted physiques.

  • title: Bob Love
  • accession number: AR01140
  • artist: Robert MapplethorpeAmerican (1946 - 1989)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • subject: Nudity
  • date created: 1979
  • 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.