Robert Mapplethorpe - Self Portrait
by Robert Mapplethorpe is an exhibition that will make you go "wow". It's a collection of over fifty photographs taken in the 1970s and 1980s, during which time he was one of America's most influential photographers. The pictures are not just about his own life story but also offer us glimpses into his personal world - where sex, drugs, art and fashion meet to create unforgettable images. The title of this show comes from an article published on ArtForum in 1981 when Robert Mapplethorpe said: "I don't know what I'm doing here; I hope people like it." And they did!
"I am trying to figure out how to do something with my body," says photographer Robert Mapplethorpe at the beginning of the book. He understood perfectly well that the picture would be more powerful than any words could ever describe. In fact, we can see him searching for himself through all kinds of situations. We see him as a model, a painter, a dancer or even as a musician playing guitar. All these roles were very important to him. But there was always another side of Robert...
Mapplethorpe has been called many things since he became famous. A genius, a madman, a dreamer, a visionary who changed everything. His vision made him one of the greatest artists of our times. But above all else, it gave him the courage to break away from being a good-looking kid from New York City and follow his dreams wherever they might lead him. Nowadays, his work seems so simple because it doesn't need anything extra to come alive. Just put your eyes on his photos and you'll understand exactly why so many people love them.
In addition to having great artistic skills, Robert had extraordinary talent when it came to creating strong visual impressions. Every single photo tells its own story. One of the main reasons behind its success is the ability to tell stories using only visuals. The viewer feels present in every situation. The artist uses color, light, shadows and shapes. Sometimes he puts objects in front of the subject (like flowers), other times he makes use of mirrors and reflections. His compositions are balanced and never overcrowded, while still looking spontaneous. You feel like taking part in each scene without feeling overwhelmed. There isn't much dialogue or action going on in some pictures, yet they're full of emotion and energy. They capture moments instead of events, making them timeless works of art.
One thing is clear after viewing Self Portraits by Robert Mapplethorpe - no matter how hard someone tries, they cannot deny their unique style and creativity. This is definitely a must have book for everyone interested in modern American art.
Here below we've collected five pieces of advice from those who knew Robert best. These quotes shed new light onto his personality and give us fresh ideas about getting started in photography today.
1) Don’t try too hard - “Don't worry if the image looks bad until you get home and find out whether anyone liked it. If nobody does, then maybe you shouldn't take such risks anymore.”
2) Keep moving forward - “You should keep coming up with different ways to produce art. Maybe in the future you won't have to shoot photos anymore. That way, you'll stay true to yourself.”
3) Be fearless - “There's really nothing you can't photograph. It's all right to fail sometimes, especially early on. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. If you want to succeed, you've got to risk failing.”
4) Take a chance once in awhile - “When I start shooting, I almost always end up liking the result. Taking chances gives me confidence. Once I saw myself walking down a street wearing a tuxedo, and I took a shot. It turned out pretty nice. So now whenever I wear a suit, I think 'you better take a picture'.”
5) Always remember: “Photography is a collaboration between you and God.”
And lastly, let's hear it from Robert himself: "If you have a problem, you'd better ask somebody else. Or you may die before finding the answer."
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