Robert Mapplethorpe

Ken Moody (1983)

About this artwork

Mapplethorpe’s male figure studies were often athletic black men because “he could extract a greater richness from the colour of their skin”. Typical of these studies, Ken Moody is photographed in Mapplethorpe’s studio with photographic backdrop material to allow absolute focus on the figure in the foreground. The lighting is arranged to enhance the sitter’s symmetrical features, muscle definition and bone-structure. Moody's eyes are closed, indicating that this work is more closely related to Mapplethorpe’s body studies rather than one of his portraits. The subject is in perfect symmetry with his mouth and nose at the very centre of the image, his shoulders fill the bottom of the frame and his smooth head forms triangular shape at the top of the image.

  • title: Ken Moody
  • accession number: AR01142
  • artist: Robert MapplethorpeAmerican (1946 - 1989)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • date created: 1983
  • 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.