Robert Mapplethorpe (1946–1989) is best known for his provocative photographic works made in studio that explore sexuality, identity, and gender, he also concentrated on celebrity portraits and still lifes of flowers throughout his career. Mapplethorpe Flora: The Complete Flowers is the definitive collection of Mapplethorpe’s flower photographs, created between 1973 and 1989.
After borrowing artist Sandy Daley’s Polaroid camera in 1970, Mapplethorpe began photographing in earnest in 1971 when John McKendry, the former head of prints and photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, gave him his first Polaroid camera. In 1973 he started making photographs of flowers arranged in his studio as a way to learn about light and exposure, techniques he would then apply to his portraiture. The resulting images are full of art historical references while retaining Mapplethorpe’s signature ability to capture the sensual essence of flowers.
The elegant burgundy cloth slipcased edition features nearly 300 images created in a wide range of formats, including Polaroids, dye-transfer, gelatin-silver, color gravure, and unique presentations. The stunning reproductions pop off the page, bringing Mapplethorpe’s carefully composed and lit images of orchids, roses, tulips, and lilies to life. Mapplethorpe Flora shows the diversity of his compositions, from the noir effect of a bird-of-paradise photographed with flash against a horizontal blind to the simplicity of two tulips entwined, delicately dancing across the frame. Mapplethorpe’s fascination with physical beauty transformed the perception of a classic and familiar subject into a dynamic and evocative genre within photography.
Mapplethorpe Flora: The Complete Flowers
Photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe, Introduction by Herbert Muschamp
Essay by Dimitri Levas, Edited by Mark Holborn and Dimitri Levas
308 x 292 mm, 12 1/8 x 11 1/2 in
159 colour illustrations, 54 black and white illustrations
Robert Mapplethorpe, The Perfect Medium
• From March 15th to July 31st, 2016
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049-1687
• From March 20th to July 31st, 2016
The Los Angeles County Museum Of Art (Lacma)
5905 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036