I like about Mapplethorpe his unashamed expression of sexuality. His careful compositions and precise lighting, which joins sacred and profane. Being a Polaroid junkie, I love how he used Polaroid. From flowers to celebrities, from simple nudes to S&M scenes.
In the words of Patti Smith:
Robert [Mapplethorpe] was not a voyeur. He always said that he had to be authentically involved with the work that came out of his S&M pursuits, that he wasn't taking pictures for the sake of sensationalism, or making it his mission to help the S&M scene become more socially acceptable. He didn't think it should be accepted, and he never felt that his underground world was for everybody. [...]
He was no longer using magazine images, just models and himself to produce visuals of self-inflicted pain. I admired him for it, but I could not comprehend the brutality. It was hard for me to match it with the boy I had met.
And yet when I look at Robert's work, his subjects are not saying, Sorry, I have my cock hanging out. He's not sorry and doesn't want anybody else to be. He wanted his subjects to be pleased with his photographs, whether it was an S&M guy shoving nails in his dick or a glamorous socialite.
Patti Smith - Just Kids
Portrait of Andy Warhol
Portrait of Arnold Schwarzenegger
Portrait of Patti Smith
This iconic photo seems to be a reference to an old photo by Von Gloeden