ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE (1946-1989)
Among the motifs considered to be typically Mapplethorpe--i.e. nudes, portraits, black men, and the New York gay scene--flowers had a firmly-established (albeit less spectacular) position. The first date from the seventies; the last were taken shortly before his death. Design was also dominant here; the perfect, emphatically artifical arrangement. And in the final analysis, he was also concerned with the same subject: stylizing sexuality into a still life. Under Mapplethorpe's gaze, flowers lose their mellifluous-ness and innocent symbolism. They suddenly reveal a perfidious, at times decadent, eloquence. Once again one encounters two things in their utmost perfection: erotic drama and absolute clarity of composition--the celestial poles and quintessence of Mapplethorpe's work. His long-time partner, singer-songwriter Patti Smith, composed a farewell poem for this volume.