Pistils

Overview

Robert Mapplethorpe began taking photographs in the 1970s with a Polaroid camera given to him by a friend. When he died in 1989 of AIDS, at the age of forty-two, he was considered one of the most important photographers of his generation, having gained a reputation as the avatar of a rigorous formalism stunningly wed to graphic and sometimes controversial subject matter. Most of Robert Mapplethorpe's days began in the early afternoon, often by photographing flowers. Mapplethorpe used them to help focus his ...
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Overview

Robert Mapplethorpe began taking photographs in the 1970s with a Polaroid camera given to him by a friend. When he died in 1989 of AIDS, at the age of forty-two, he was considered one of the most important photographers of his generation, having gained a reputation as the avatar of a rigorous formalism stunningly wed to graphic and sometimes controversial subject matter. Most of Robert Mapplethorpe's days began in the early afternoon, often by photographing flowers. Mapplethorpe used them to help focus his vision, centering and warming up for his commercial portrait work. The flowers also helped him to effect the transition to the more daring work, which he executed late at night. Pistils reproduces 120 of these ravishing images of flowers, many of which have never been published. The full range of Mapplethorpe's virtuosity is displayed here - early Polaroids; exacting still lifes in black-and-white and color; and extremely rare, toned gravure prints. These photographs go far beyond decorative allure to place him firmly in the pantheon of the photographic masters.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Though Mapplethorpe (1946-89) may figure in the public consciousness for his controversial X Portfolio, his strong reputation in art circles is grounded on his stark formalism, his celebrity portraits, and his photographs of flowers. Indeed, the flowers consistently outpace all his other works at the annual auctions. This third volume in Random House's collaboration with the Mapplethorpe Foundation (after Mapplethorpe, 1990, and Altars, LJ 2/1/96) conveys the luminosity and seductive beauty of 120 of Mapplethorpe's creations in amazingly rich reproductions. A short but insightful essay by poet Ashbery delves into the artist's uneasy relation to his floral subjects and places them within his greater oeuvre. Mapplethorpe photographed flowers throughout his career, and the images here represent all periods and styles, including color and toned prints. The book's only drawback is the editors' choice to present the pictures out of chronological order, forcing the reader to flip back and forth to discern shifts in the artist's manipulations of light and depth. Still, with twice as many illustrations as Bulfinch's Flowers (LJ 12/90), which showed only color works, this sumptuous book belongs in all academic and most larger public libraries.-Eric Bryant, "Library Journal"
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Better known for his controversial human portraits, Robert Mapplethorpe was also an avid and widely-praised photographer of flowers. His stunning images belie the fact he was not enamored of flowers, but they presented for him an exercise in focusing his creativity and achieving absolute perfection. This book reproduces 120 of these ravishing images, some in full color, others in b&w and toned gravure, many which have never been published. The full range of Mapplethorpe's virtuosity is represented in these pictures which critic John Ashberry described as "splendor and sterility inextricably fused." 11 3/4" x 12 1/2". Slipcased.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517284360
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/1996
  • Pages: 173

Meet the Author

Robert Mapplethorpe was born in Queens, New York in 1946. He studied at the Pratt Institute, working primarily in printmaking and as a filmmaker. He began to take photographs, at first mainly Polaroids, while living with the singer Patti Smith in the Chelsea Hotel. Mapplethorpe had his first one-man exhibition in New York in 1976. He became known for his portraits of friends and acquaintances, among them artists, composers, architects, socialites, stars of pornographic films, and members of the homosexual underground. His photographs of flowers and of nude black men were also widely praised. In 1988 the Whitney Museum of American Art mounted the first major retrospective of Mapplethorpe's work. Mapplethorpe died the following year, and an exhibition of his photographs organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia led to debate over public support of the arts.
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