Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures

Nude men in rubber suits, close-ups of erections, objects shoved in the most intimate of places—these are photographs taken by Robert Mapplethorpe, known by many as the most controversial photographer of the twentieth century. Openly gay, Mapplethorpe took images of male sex, nudity, and fetish to extremes that resulted in his work still being labelled by some as pornography masquerading as art. But less talked about are the more serene, yet striking portraits of flowers, sculptures, and perfectly framed human forms that are equally pioneering and powerful.


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  • ★★★★ review by Craig Duffy on Letterboxd

    I'm glad this film exists for the people who don't live in California where the two-museum show is going on. It's a document for them. For me, it just makes me want to see the exhibition immediately.

  • ★★★★ review by Bradley J. Dixon on Letterboxd

    Best part of this was seeing obscenely rich old people sit in their palatial apartments and reminisce about when they were dirt poor artists and bohemians living in squalid rooms at the Chelsea Hotel

  • ★★★½ review by Bill Bryant on Letterboxd

    This documentary was pretty interesting, as I had only been peripherally aware of the artist and his controversies when I was growing up, so this gave a much more even-handed and nuanced portrait of the man in my mind.

    It was also rather interesting to see that his friends and lovers had a very honest attitude about him, giving the impression (to me, anyway) that his fortune being used to create a foundation to research AIDS was much more about finding a way to have his name and legacy live on, rather than any true nobility or interest helping others at that stage of his life.

    Well worth a look, give it a spin if you have the opportunity.

  • ★★★½ review by Mónica Luna on Letterboxd

    Muy buen material. El retrato es completo.

    Claro, falta Patti.

  • ★★★★ review by Ken Rudolph on Letterboxd

    This often fascinating documentary tells of the life and works of the world-class, obsessive, and controversial art photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. He was a gay icon, whose work broke boundaries of S&M imagery...but that was only a small portion of his entire oeuvre, which is exhaustively shared with the viewer. The film also delves into his personal life through interviews with people close to him: family, models, ex-lovers, not all of them fans of his. Much of this material is prurient on the surface; but provides an insightful view into the late 20th century New York art scene (and the decimation of that community by AIDS) that is groundbreaking for its veracity and frankness. The film is occasionally hard to watch; but it is an important document about a period of time that has mostly existed in the shadows of rumor and innuendo. [A personal note: I never met the man; but I had a close, first degree contact with him. I can personally attest to the accuracy of much of the scandalous content of this film.]

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