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Robert Mapplethorpe
Self Portrait, 1980 © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.
Robert Mapplethorpe
Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe

Country: United States
Birth: 1946 | Death: 1989

Robert Mapplethorpe was born in 1946 in Floral Park, Queens. Of his childhood he said, "I come from suburban America. It was a very safe environment and it was a good place to come from in that it was a good place to leave."

In 1963, Mapplethorpe enrolled at Pratt Institute in nearby Brooklyn, where he studied drawing, painting, and sculpture. Influenced by artists such as Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp, he also experimented with various materials in mixed-media collages, including images cut from books and magazines. He acquired a Polaroid camera in 1970 and began producing his own photographs to incorporate into the collages, saying he felt "it was more honest." That same year he and Patti Smith, whom he had met three years earlier, moved into the Chelsea Hotel.

Mapplethorpe quickly found satisfaction taking Polaroid photographs in their own right and indeed few Polaroids actually appear in his mixed-media works. In 1973, the Light Gallery in New York City mounted his first solo gallery exhibition, "Polaroids." Two years later he acquired a Hasselblad medium-format camera and began shooting his circle of friends and acquaintances—artists, musicians, socialites, pornographic film stars, and members of the S & M underground. He also worked on commercial projects, creating album cover art for Patti Smith and Television and a series of portraits and party pictures for Interview Magazine.

In the late 70s, Mapplethorpe grew increasingly interested in documenting the New York S & M scene. The resulting photographs are shocking for their content and remarkable for their technical and formal mastery. Mapplethorpe told ARTnews in late 1988, "I don't like that particular word 'shocking.' I'm looking for the unexpected. I'm looking for things I've never seen before … I was in a position to take those pictures. I felt an obligation to do them." Meanwhile his career continued to flourish. In 1977, he participated in Documenta 6 in Kassel, West Germany and in 1978, the Robert Miller Gallery in New York City became his exclusive dealer.

Mapplethorpe met Lisa Lyon, the first World Women's Bodybuilding Champion, in 1980. Over the next several years they collaborated on a series of portraits and figure studies, a film, and the book, Lady, Lisa Lyon. Throughout the 80s, Mapplethorpe produced a bevy of images that simultaneously challenge and adhere to classical aesthetic standards: stylized compositions of male and female nudes, delicate flower still lifes, and studio portraits of artists and celebrities, to name a few of his preferred genres. He introduced and refined different techniques and formats, including color 20" x 24" Polaroids, photogravures, platinum prints on paper and linen, Cibachrome and dye transfer color prints. In 1986, he designed sets for Lucinda Childs' dance performance, Portraits in Reflection, created a photogravure series for Arthur Rimbaud's A Season in Hell, and was commissioned by curator Richard Marshall to take portraits of New York artists for the series and book, 50 New York Artists.

That same year, in 1986, he was diagnosed with AIDS. Despite his illness, he accelerated his creative efforts, broadened the scope of his photographic inquiry, and accepted increasingly challenging commissions. The Whitney Museum of American Art mounted his first major American museum retrospective in 1988, one year before his death in 1989.

His vast, provocative, and powerful body of work has established him as one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. Today Mapplethorpe is represented by galleries in North and South America and Europe and his work can be found in the collections of major museums around the world. Beyond the art historical and social significance of his work, his legacy lives on through the work of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. He established the Foundation in 1988 to promote photography, support museums that exhibit photographic art, and to fund medical research in the fight against AIDS and HIV-related infection.
 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

Anton Corbijn
Netherlands
1955
Anton Corbijn (born 20 May 1955) is a Dutch photographer, music video director, and film director. He is the creative director behind the visual output of Depeche Mode and U2, having handled the principal promotion and sleeve photography for both for almost 3 decades. Some of his works include music videos for Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" (1990), U2's "One" (version 1) (1991), Bryan Adams' "Do I Have to Say the Words? and Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box" (1993), as well as the Ian Curtis biopic Control (2007), George Clooney's The American (2010), and A Most Wanted Man (2013) based on John le Carré's 2008 novel of the same name. Anton Corbijn was born on 20 May 1955 as Anton Johannes Gerrit Corbijn van Willenswaard in Strijen, the Netherlands, where his father had been appointed as parson to the Dutch Reformed Church the previous year. Father Anton (Hilversum, 12 Nov 1917 - Amersfoort, 9 Mar 2007) would take up the same position in Hoogland (1966) and Groningen (Diakonessenhuis, 1972) moving his wife and four children with him. His mother, Marietje Groeneboer (11 Sep 1925 - Hoogland, 15 Sep 2011), was a nurse and was raised in a parson's family. Photographer and director Maarten Corbijn (Strijen, 1960) is a younger brother. Grandfather Anton Johannes (Corbijn) van Willenswaard (Schoonhoven, 24 Nov 1886 - Hilversum, 16 Aug 1959) was an art teacher at Christian schools in Hilversum and an active member in the local Dutch Reformed church in Hilversum. Corbijn started his career of music photographer when he saw the Dutch musician Herman Brood playing in a café in Groningen around 1975. He took a lot of photos of the 'rising star' Herman Brood & His Wild Romance. Because of the pictures taken by Corbijn, Brood's fame rose quickly, and as a result Corbijn's own exposure increased. Corbijn has photographed Joy Division, Depeche Mode, Tom Waits, Pr?ta V?tra, David Bowie, Peter Hammill, Miles Davis, Björk, Captain Beefheart, Kim Wilde, Robert De Niro, Stephen Hawking, Elvis Costello, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Morrissey, Simple Minds, Clint Eastwood, The Cramps, Roxette and Herbert Grönemeyer, amongst others. Perhaps his most famous, and longest standing, association is with U2, having taken pictures of the band on their first US tour, as well as taking pictures for their Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby albums (et al) and directing a number of accompanying videos. From the late 70s the London based NME, (New Musical Express), a weekly music paper, featured his work on a regular basis and would often feature a photograph of his as the front page. One such an occasion was a portrait of David Bowie back stage in New York at his play The Elephant Man in nothing more than a loin cloth. In the early years of London based The Face, a glossy monthly post-punk life style / music magazine, Anton Corbijn was a regular contributor. He made his name working only in black and white. In May 1989 he began taking pictures in colour using filters: his first try was done for Siouxsie Sioux. Between 1998 through 2000, in collaboration with the painter Marlene Dumas, he worked on a project called "Stripping Girls", which took the strip clubs and peep shows of Amsterdam as their subject; while Corbijn later exhibited photographs, Dumas took Polaroids which she then used as sources for her paintings. Corbijn has photographed album covers for U2, working with sleeve designer Steve Averill and Peter Hammill, Depeche Mode, The Creatures (the second band of Siouxsie Sioux), Nick Cave, Bryan Adams, Metallica, Therapy?, The Rolling Stones, Simple Minds, R.E.M., The Bee Gees, Saybia and Moke.Source: Wikipedia
Pedro Jarque Krebs
Pedro Jarque Krebs is an award winning photographer born in Lima, Peru, graduated in Philosophy of Science from the Sorbonne University in Paris. His photos have won more than 100 photography awards internationally, 31 gold medals, 10 silver medals, 6 bronze medals and many honorable mentions. Among these awards are the Sony World Photography Awards, whose Peru National Award he won 3 times, in 2016, 2018 and 2019; the 2018 Bird Photographer of the Year competition (United Kingdom), where he was the overall winner; First place at: Montier Festival Photo (France) in 2018, Oasis Photo Contest (Italy) in 2017; the Sente-Antu Cup (China) in 2018, and the Trierenberg Super Circuit (Austria) in 2018. He was a finalist four years in a row of the Smithsonian Annual Photo Contest (United States). In October 2016, he was named photographer of the month by National Geographic, France. There's no doubt that we, the human beings, have many problems to resolve as a species, and that our societies are far from having achieved the justice and equality we crave for, but to deal with the animal world, far from being a mere levity, has turned into a major problem of great magnitude which directly affects our survival as a species. It is no longer just about the loss of their diversity and beauty; it is an issue that affects our entire ecosystem, causing a serious imbalance. Our expansion has meant the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of living species. This artistic-photographic project aims to help breaking the barrier that we have built in our relationship with the animal life, showing animals in a closer, even intimate, way, isolated from any context, trying to rebuild with our look these destroyed bridges, as well and giving back to the animals part of its stolen dignity.
Elliott Erwitt
France
1928
Born in Paris in 1928 to Russian parents, Erwitt spent his childhood in Milan, then emigrated to the US, via France, with his family in 1939. As a teenager living in Hollywood, he developed an interest in photography and worked in a commercial darkroom before experimenting with photography at Los Angeles City College. In 1948 he moved to New York and exchanged janitorial work for film classes at the New School for Social Research. Erwitt traveled in France and Italy in 1949 with his trusty Rolleiflex camera. In 1951 he was drafted for military service and undertook various photographic duties while serving in a unit of the Army Signal Corps in Germany and France. While in New York, Erwitt met Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker, the former head of the Farm Security Administration. Stryker initially hired Erwitt to work for the Standard Oil Company, where he was building up a photographic library for the company, and subsequently commissioned him to undertake a project documenting the city of Pittsburgh. In 1953 Erwitt joined Magnum Photos and worked as a freelance photographer for Collier's, Look, Life, Holiday and other luminaries in that golden period for illustrated magazines. To this day he is for hire and continues to work for a variety of journalistic and commercial outfits. In the late 1960s Erwitt served as Magnum's president for three years. He then turned to film: in the 1970s he produced several noted documentaries and in the 1980s eighteen comedy films for Home Box Office. Erwitt became known for benevolent irony, and for a humanistic sensibility traditional to the spirit of Magnum. Source: Magnum Photos
Maria Svarbova
Slovakia
1988
Maria Svarbova was born in 1988; she currently lives in Slovakia. Despite studying restoration and archeology, her preferred artistic medium is photography. From 2010 to the present, the immediacy of Maria's photographic instinct continues to garner international acclaim and is setting new precedents in photographic expression. The recipient of several prestigious awards, her solo and group exhibitions have placed her among the vanguard of her contemporaries, attracting features in Vogue, Forbes, The Guardian, and publications around the world; her work is frequently in the limelight of social media. Maria's reputation also earned her a commission for a billboard-sized promotion on the massive Taipei 101 tower, in Taiwan. Maria's distinctive style departs from traditional portraiture and focuses on experimentation with space, colour, and atmosphere. Taking an interest in Socialist era architecture and public spaces, Maria transforms each scene with a modern freshness that highlights the depth and range of her creative palette. The human body throughout her oeuvre is more or less a peripheral afterthought, often portrayed as aloof and demure rather than substantive. Carefully composed figures create thematic, dream-like scenes with ordinary objects. Her images hold a silent tension that hint at emergent possibilities under the lilt of clean and smooth surfaces. There is often a sense of cool detachment and liminality in Maria's work. Routine actions such as exercise, doctor appointments, and domestic tasks are reframed with a visual purity that is soothing and symmetrical and at times reverberant with an ethereal stillness. The overall effect evokes a contemplative silence in an extended moment of promise and awareness—a quality difficult to achieve in the rapid pace of modern life. Maria's postmodern vision boldly articulates a dialog that compels the viewer to respond to the mystery, loneliness, and isolation of the human experience. Nevertheless, deeply embedded within the aqueous pastels, Maria's compositions hold to a celebratory elegance that transforms the viewer's gaze into an enduring reverence for life's simple beauty. Hasselblad Master 2018 Forbes 30 under 30 Winner of International Photography Awards 2016 All about Swimming Pool In the Swimming Pool is Maria's largest series yet, originating in 2014 and continuing to develop to date. Sparked by a hunt for interesting location, her fascination with the space of public swimming pools contributed to developing her visual style. Sterile, geometric beauty of old pools set the tone for these photographs. Each of them pictures a different pool, usually built in the Socialist Era, in various locations in Slovakia. There is almost cinematographic quality to the highly controlled sceneries that Maria captures. The figures are mid-movement, but there is no joyful playfulness to them. Frozen in the composition, the swimmers are as smooth and cold as the pools tiles. The colours softly vibrate in a dream-like atmosphere. Despite the retro setting, the pictures somehow evoke a futuristic feeling as well, as if they were taken somewhere completely alien. There is no disturbing emotion, there is no individuality in their stillness. The artificial detachment, created by Maria's visual vision, allows unique visual pleasure, unattainable in real life.
Dennis Stock
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1928 | † 2010
Dennis Stock (July 24, 1928 – January 11, 2010) was an American photojournalist and documentary photographer and a member of Magnum Photos. He was born in New York City and died in Sarasota, Florida. Stock served in the United States Army from 1947-1951. Following his discharge, he apprenticed under photographer Gjon Mili. In 1951, he won a first prize in a Life magazine competition for young photographers. That same year, he became an associate member of the photography agency Magnum. He became a full partner-member in 1954. In 1955, Stock met the actor James Dean and undertook a series of photos of the young star in Hollywood, Dean's hometown in Indiana and in New York City. He took a photograph of Dean in New York's Times Square in 1955 (the year Dean died) that became an iconic image of the young star. It appeared later in numerous galleries and on postcards and posters and was one of the most reproduced photographs of the post-war period. The black and white photograph shows the actor with a pulled up collar on a casual jacket and a cigarette in his mouth on a rain-soaked, gray day. From 1957 until the early 1960s, Stock aimed his lens at jazz musicians, photographing such people as Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Sidney Bechet, Gene Krupa and Duke Ellington. With this series of photographs he published the book Jazz Street. In 1962, he received the first prize at the International Photo Competition in Poland. In 1968, Stock left Magnum to start his own film company, Visual Objectives Inc., and made several documentaries, but he returned to the agency a year later, as vice president for new media and film. In the mid-1970s, he traveled to Japan and the Far East, and also produced numerous features series, such as photographs of contrasting regions, like Hawaii and Alaska. In the 1970s and 1980s he focused on color photography of nature and landscape, and returned to his urban roots in the 1990s focusing on architecture and modernism.(Source: en.wikipedia.org) Dennis Stock was born in 1928 in New York City. At the age of 17, he left home to join the United States Navy. In 1947 he became an apprentice to Life magazine photographer Gjon Mili and won first prize in Life's Young Photographers contest. He joined Magnum in 1951. Stock managed to evoke the spirit of America through his memorable and iconic portraits of Hollywood stars, most notably James Dean. From 1957 to 1960 Stock made lively portraits of jazz musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Sidney Bechet, Gene Krupa and Duke Ellington for his book Jazz Street. In 1968 Stock took a leave of absence from Magnum to create Visual Objectives, a film production company, and he shot several documentaries. In the late 1960s he captured the attempts of California hippies to reshape society according to ideals of love and caring. Then throughout the 1970s and 1980s he worked on color books, emphasizing the beauty of nature through details and landscape. In the 1990s he went back to his urban origins, exploring the modern architecture of large cities. His recent work was mostly focused on the abstraction of flowers. Stock generated a book or an exhibition almost every year since the 1950s. He taught numerous workshops and exhibited his work widely in France, Germany, Italy, the United States and Japan. He worked as a writer, director and producer for television and film, and his photographs have been acquired by most major museum collections. He served as president of Magnum's film and new media division in 1969 and 1970.(Source: Magnum Photos)
Trevor Cole
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