Robert Mapplethorpe - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 1, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Robert Miller Gallery, New York

  • Literature

    Danto, Mapplethorpe, p. 229
    Kardon, Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment, p. 77
    teNeues, Mapplethorpe by Robert Mapplethorpe, cover, p. 229
    teNeues, Robert Mapplethorpe: Perfection in Form, p. 177
    Twelvetrees Press, Robert Mapplethorpe, n.p.

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I see things like they were sculptures. It depends on how that form exists within the space”
    -Robert Mapplethorpe

    Robert Mapplethorpe’s polemical and historically significant photographs varied in subject matter, from lurid and salacious to somber and contemplative. Yet, no matter the content, Mapplethorpe’s commitment to perfection, which he believed to have been embodied by Classical sculpture, was evident. “I am obsessed with beauty,” he once confessed. “I want everything to be perfect, and of course it isn’t.” The pursuit of perfection drove Mapplethorpe to continuously strive to simulate the form, curvature and style of Greek and Roman marbles in his photographs.

    In the current lot, the artist positioned two of his favored models, Ken Moody and Robert Sherman, in profile, cropping both at the shoulders, in keeping with Classical busts. The contours of their bodies—separated by an elegant sliver of space—seamlessly undulate against each other, their skin lit with a soft and ethereal sheen. And yet, they are not meant to be mistaken for sculptures but rather narrow the space between the real and the sculpted, perpetually leaving perfection just out of reach.

  • Artist Biography

    Robert Mapplethorpe

    American • 1946 - 1989

    After studying drawing, painting and sculpture at the Pratt Institute in the 1960s, Robert Mapplethorpe began experimenting with photography while living in the notorious Chelsea Hotel with Patti Smith. Beginning with Polaroids, he soon moved on to a Hasselblad medium-format camera, which he used to explore aspects of life often only seen behind closed doors.

    By the 1980s Mapplethorpe's focus was predominantly in the studio, shooting portraits, flowers and nudes. His depiction of the human form in formal compositions reflects his love of classical sculpture and his groundbreaking marriage of those aesthetics with often challenging subject matter. Mapplethorpe's style is present regardless of subject matter — from erotic nudes to self-portraits and flowers — as he ceaselessly strove for what he called "perfection of form."

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Ken Moody and Robert Sherman

Gelatin silver print.
15 1/8 x 15 1/8 in. (38.4 x 38.4 cm)
Signed, dated and numbered 4/10 in ink in the margin; signed, dated in ink and copyright credit reproduction limitation stamp on the reverse of the flush-mount.

$50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for $68,750

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Vanessa Kramer Hallett
Worldwide Head, Photographs

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New York Auction 1 October