Clothespinned Mouth
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.

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Clothespinned Mouth 1978
  • Artist Rooms
If it were not for the title, it would be difficult to work out what is going on in this photograph. The use of close-ups that defamiliarise us with the body, as well as the photographing of sado-masochistic fetishes and clothes had been part of the surrealist photographers’ practice. The collar around the figure’s neck and the leather cuffs just visible, allude to the S&M scene of the 1970s that Mapplethorpe was involved in. The clothes-pegs in this photograph are reminiscent of the Crown of Thorns. Mapplethorpe’s strict Catholic upbringing made itself felt in many of his works.

Glossary Open


A literary and artistic movement founded by the poet André Breton in 1924. Many of the associated artists, such as Max Ernst and Jean Arp, had previously been involved with Dadaism. The movement sought to challenge conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, invoking the power of dreams and elements of chance. Cultural hierarchies were challenged by the combination of diverse elements in collages and sculptural assemblages. The movement is also notable for the collaborations between artists and writers evident in the Surrealists' many publications.



  • Acc. No. AR00201
  • Medium Photograph, gelatine silver print on paper
  • Size 34.00 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