Robert Mapplethorpe

Self Portrait

About this artwork

In this late photograph, Mapplethorpe is no longer playing a role, as he did in so many of his earlier self portraits. It was taken a few months before he died from an AIDS-related illness in 1989. In it he faces straight ahead, as if he were looking death in the face. The skull-headed cane that he holds in his right hand reinforces this reading. Mapplethorpe is wearing black, so that his head floats free, disembodied, as if he were already halfway to death. Mapplethorpe even photographs his head very slightly out of focus (compared with his hand) to suggest his gradual fading away.

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
  • title:
    Self Portrait
  • date created:
    1988
  • materials:
    Gelatine silver print on paper
  • measurements:
    57.70 x 48.10 cm (framed: 85.00 x 74.70 x 2.20 cm)
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    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
  • accession number:
    AR00496
  • gallery:
  • depicted:
  • subject:
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms
Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? Tell us what you think.

Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe