William Burroughs
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.

Reference URL

William Burroughs 1980
  • Artist Rooms
William Burroughs was a novelist, a guru and one of America’s underground heroes. His greatest novel, ‘The Naked Lunch’ (first published in France in 1959) was banned on the grounds of obscenity until, in a groundbreaking trial in 1966, it was declared not obscene. By 1980, when this photograph was taken, Burroughs was a countercultural giant. Mapplethorpe portrays him as a secular saint in prayer. Almost half the composition is taken up by Burroughs’s dark jacket, which thereby throws into sharp relief his head and clasped hands.

Glossary Open

Composition

The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.

Counterculture

A culture with lifestyles and values opposed to those of the established culture.

Composition, Counterculture

Details

  • Acc. No. AR00211
  • Medium Photograph, gelatine silver print on paper
  • Size 34.10 x 34.10 cm (framed: 50.80 x 40.60 cm)
  • Credit ARTIST 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