The nickname, tattoos, studded wristband and knowing look suggest that there is a darker side to this androgynous-looking young man. The placement of the arms and the contrapposto of the body and head are features common in Mannerist art, an area of art history that Mapplethorpe had a particular interest in.
This term usually refers to a standing human figure carrying its weight on one leg so that the opposite hip rises to produce a relaxed curve in the body, although it can be used more generally to describe any twisted figure. It is associated with Renaissance sculptors who looked back to Ancient Greek and Roman models for inspiration.
A style of art that spread from Italy to much of Europe in the 16th century, between the High Renaissance and Baroque periods. There is disagreement among historians as to its nature but it often seen as decadent, rejecting the classical ideals of the Renaissance and characterized by elongated figures.
MediumPhotograph on paper
Size50.80 x 40.60 cm
CreditARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946 - 1989)
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.