About this artwork

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.

Updated before 2020

see media
  • artist:
  • title:
    Self Portrait
  • date created:
    1983
  • materials:
    Gelatin silver print on paper
  • measurements:
    37.40 x 37.50 cm (framed: 71.60 x 69.20 x 2.80 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:
    AR00226
  • gallery:
  • depicted:
  • subject:
  • artwork photographed by:
    Antonia Reeve
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms
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Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe