This photograph is from a series of images of black men in which Mapplethorpe celebrated the sculptural beauty of the human form. Here Mapplethorpe presents the lithe feet of an unidentified sitter, toes pressed closely together, as a portrait in their own right. 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. Mapplethorpe’s nude studies have been seen as part of the studio-based art-historical tradition of nude portraiture. Their formal qualities have been linked to the work of American photographer Edward Weston who photographed curled, athletic bodies to create human landscapes rich in light, shade and texture.