(AMERICAN, 1946 - 1989)
Robert Mapplethorpe is known for his elegantly expressive black-and-white studies of male and female nudes, flowers, and celebrity portraits. He credited sculpture as an influence on his work and used traditional techniques of direct lighting and sharp focus to produce sleekly ravishing effects and gleaming surfaces. His photographs include homoerotic images, often glamorized and disturbing, which made him a controversial figure. Soon after his death from AIDS, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., canceled a traveling retrospective of his work in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid a debate in Congress over public funding by the National Endowment for the Arts of works deemed “objectionable” by fundamentalist religious groups and political conservatives.