Robert Mapplethorpe (1946 - 1989). Photographer
© Photograph by John Swannell, Camera Press London

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Robert Mapplethorpe (1946 - 1989). Photographer 1980
This is a striking image of the American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. It shows a young Mapplethorpe standing beside a camera, the paper backdrop appears to have fallen forward slightly to frame him perfectly. Mapplethorpe became infamous 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. It could be seen that Swannell was evoking a similar idea in this work. This image was taken when Mapplethorpe came to London to photograph several people and used Swannell’s studio.


  • Acc. No. PGP 180.21
  • Medium Silver gelatine print
  • Size 30.00 x 29.50 cm
  • Credit Gift 1988