Robert Mapplethorpe, the timelesss American photographer most active in the 1980’s, was mainly known for his highly stylized black and white flower series. However, his most iconic and prolific works, various series of photographs dealing with homoeroticism and sadomasochistic BSDM acts between men of diverse cultural backgrounds, fuelled national debate in the NSA over the public funding of controversial artworks.
Some of these photographs, made visible by The Mapplethorpe Foundation, were part of his first solo gallery exhibition, ‘Polaroids’, at the Light Gallery in 1973.
Mapplethorpe quickly found satisfaction taking Polaroid photographs in their own right and indeed few Polaroids actually appear in his mixed-media works. Two years after his Polaroids exhibition, he acquired a Hasselblad medium-format camera and began shooting his circle of friends and acquaintances—artists, musicians, socialites, pornographic film stars, and members of the S & M underground. He also worked on commercial projects, creating album cover art for Patti Smith and Television and a series of portraits and party pictures for Interview Magazine.