30 Great Robert Mapplethorpe Photos – And Not One is Offensive

30 Great Robert Mapplethorpe photosabove: Robert Mapplethorpe, Lisa Lyon, 1982

I just wrote about the Robert Mapplethorpe documentary, Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures, airing on HBO next week, because it’s the first complete look at the late photographer’s work. But I hear so many people say “his work is not for me” that to combat their ignorance, here are 30 great Robert Mapplethorpe photos – and not one offensive one in the bunch.

30 Great Robert Mapplethorpe Photos

Those only familiar with his more controversial work, such as the X Portfolio and other of his hardcore S&M images (neither of which have examples I can publish here without getting severely penalized by Google), incorrectly think of his work as merely shocking, grotesque and offensive.

“The X Portfolio centers on men engaged in gay sex, including hard-core sadomasochism. The subject wasn’t entirely new. In Greek vase decorations, Indian miniatures and pagan temple sculptures, candid and highly refined sex pictures, heterosexual and homosexual, have been around since before Alexander the Great and the Mahabharata.” – Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times Art Critic

And yes, several of those photos are hard to look at – but do not let that put you off enjoying his oeuvre. So much of his work reveals the beauty of human anatomy, the elegance of nature and exposes the wistfulness of the soul. And here are several examples, in no particular order.

Anemone, 1989
Anemone, 1989
Ajitto, 1981
Ajitto, 1981
Iggy Pop, 1981
I
Ken Moody and Robert Sherman, 1984
Ken Moody and Robert Sherman, 1984
Grace Jones 1988
robert-mapplethorpe grace-jones 1988
Holly Solomon, 1976
Holly Solomon, 1976
Isabella Rosellini, 1988
Isabella Rosellini, 1988
Shoe Melody, 1987
robert mapplethorpe, shoe melody, 1987
Derrick Cross, 1982
Derrick Cross, 1982
Brooke Shields, 1988
brooke shields mapplethorpe
Sleeping Cupid, 1989
sleeping cupid 1989
Derrick Cross, 1985
Derrick Cross, 1985
Francesco Clemente, 1983
Francesco Clemente, 1983
Skull and Crossbones, 1983
Skull and Crossbones, 1983
Lindsay Key, 1985
Robaert Mapplethorpe, Lindsay Key 1985
Italian Devil, 1988
Italian Devil, 1988
Poppy, 1988
Poppy, 1988
William Burroughs, 1979
William Burroughs, 1979
Thomas, 1987
Thomas, 1987
White Gauze 1984
White Gauze, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1984
Andy Warhol, 1987
Robert mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, 1987
Orchid
Robert mapplethorpe, Orchid
Marissa Berenson, 1983
robert mapplethorpe, marissa-berenson-1983
Sigourney Weaver
Sigourney Weaver By Robert Mapplethorpe
Grace Jones 1984 (body art by Keith Haring)
Grace Jones 1984 by Robert Mapplethorpe, courtesy of the Tate
Lisa Lyon, 1982
lisa-lyon 1982
Arnold Schwarzenegger 1976:
Robert Mapplethorpe Arnold Schwarzenegger 1976
Ken Moody, 1983
photo of Ken Moody, 1983all photos (C) Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission. Some from The Tate and some from the Guggenheim

You can find more of his work at the following links:
Artsy
Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation
Guggenheim Online Collection
The Tate Collection