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Self Portrait
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.

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Self Portrait 1983

Not on display

  • Artist Rooms
This self portrait is based on the famous 1974 photograph of the newspaper heiress Patty Hearst holding a rifle with the symbol of the Symbionese Liberation Army on the wall behind her. Mapplethorpe shows himself in battle dress (leather jacket), posing, rifle in hand, in front of one of his constructions, ‘Black Star’, 1983 which consists of a black-painted frame in the shape of a five-pointed star or pentagram. This particular pentagram is inverted (with one point facing down) and is therefore a symbol of the Devil. Mapplethorpe, brought up a devout Catholic, later liked to identify with the Devil because of his own ‘sinful’ behaviour. Thus, he becomes a rebel soldier fighting for a cause.


  • Acc. No. AR00226
  • Medium Photograph, gelatine silver print on paper
  • Size 37.40 x 37.50 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