Mapplethorpe is considered by art historians to be one of the most significant artists of the 20th century. His striking black-and-white photographs capture a classical beauty that is both formal and raw. In 2011, The Kinsey Institute received a gift of 30 prints from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. These photographs dating from 1976 to 1985 are excellent examples of Mapplethorpe's more challenging work. Some of the gelatin silver prints are nude or clothed portraits, while others contain explicit homosexual and heterosexual imagery from the New York S&M scene.
Beyond Mapplethorpe features images by photographers who either influenced Robert Mapplethorpe’s work or were his contemporaries in the 1970s and 1980s. The show, containing more than twenty photographs, includes work by Tom Bianchi, George Platt Lynes, Len Prince, Bettina Rheims, Herb Ritts, and Arthur Tress. Although these images may not be as overtly sexual as some of Mapplethorpe’s photographs, they reveal the same interest in exploring and expanding the artistic possibilities of the human figure.
Philip Gefter writes about photography for The Daily Beast. He previously covered the subject at The New York Times for more than 15 years. Aperture recently published his book of essays, “Photography After Frank.” In 2010, Gefter produced the acclaimed feature-length documentary, “Bill Cunningham, New York.” His current project is “Wagstaff: Before and After Mapplethorpe—A Biography,” which will be published by W.W. Norton & Co. in November.
The Mapplethorpe exhibition and corresponding programs have been made possible by The College Arts and Humanities Institute in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Grunwald Gallery of Art, the Department of Sociology, and the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, all at Indiana University; the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation in New York; and Michael E. Rudder.