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  • Fiona Prior



See through the eyes of an icon

image: Robert Mapplethorpe

The Mapplethorpe exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, ‘See through the eyes of an icon’ has had much insightful coverage. Likewise Mapplethorpe himself, his life and subject matter has been viewed and analysed by academics the world over.

image: Patti Smith by Robert Mapplethorpe

Mapplethorpe monumentalised. He both sexualised and sanitised, aiming to show a 'strength' and interestingly, by doing this he also captured and revealed a truth about the subject if his images. We are able to see this quality in his famous photograph of Patti Smith, as iconic in her poised cool as are two young and unknown men - dreamily in love - waltzing unselfconsciously in their crowns.

image: two men dancing by Robert Mapplethorpe

An upsetting truth is revealed in the bruised face of Dennis Hopper's then girlfriend editor Catherine Milinaire, revealing a degree of emotional, as well as physical abuse in her face that is ironically missing in Mapplethorpe's meticulously snapped shots of New York's B&D/SM scene of the era.

image: Catherine Milinaire by Robert Mapplethorpe

Mapplethorpe's depicts the stamen of a flower with more sensuality than his monumental pictorial essays of leather men and nudes – many of the latter images almost sexually neutralised by his exacting lighting and configuration.

image: flower by Robert Mapplethorpe

image: nude by Robert Mapplethorpe

This exhibition, ‘See through the eyes of an icon’ is a voyeuristic peak into era, celebrity, gay subculture and a gifted photographer's creative style.

Until 4 March 1918

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