Robert Mapplethorpe - Photographs London Wednesday, May 7, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, London

  • Literature

    R. Mapplethorpe, A. Rimbaud, A Season in Hell, Boston: Little, Brown, 1997
    M. Holborn, D. Levas, eds., Mapplethorpe, teNeues, 2007, p. 282 (Javier, 1985), p. 283 (Gun Blast, 1985)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “When I work, and in my art, I hold hands with God.”


    In 1986, a newly translated version of French poet, Arthur Rimbaud's 1873 extended poem A Season in Hell was published with photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe. The book exemplified intriguing connections and parallels between the unorthodox and prematurely brief lives of the men, drawing on their likenesses – homosexuality being one and another being the excess of their personal lives.

  • 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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A Season in Hell

Eight photogravures. New York: The Limited Editions Club, 1986.
Varying sizes from 7.4 x 6.1 cm (2 7/8 x 2 3/8 in.) to 11.6 x 11.5 cm (4 5/8 x 4 1/2 in.); each sheet approximately 36 x 26.3 cm (14 1/8 x 10 3/8 in.)
Each initialled, dated and numbered 29/40 in pencil in the margin. One from an edition of 40 plus 10 artist's proofs and 5 printer's proofs. Colophon. Accompanied by a red morocco portfolio case.

£12,000 - 18,000 

Sold for £15,000

Contact Specialist
Lou Proud
Head of Sale
+ 44 207 318 4018


London 8 May 2014 4pm