Robert Mapplethorpe - Photographs London Friday, May 19, 2023 | Phillips
  • In 1978, at the height of their respective artistic careers, the esteemed photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) captured the rock star Debbie Harry. The resulting image showcases why the sitter garnered the nickname ‘Blondie’ with her bi-coloured hairstyle adding a multitude of monochromatic tones to the work. On the photoshoot, which took place on a summer day in Mapplethorpe’s Bond Street loft, Harry has recounted:


    I remember that it was very quite warm and very sunny, very bright. You can see I’m really squinting. I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open. I was thrilled to be photographed by Mapplethorpe. I knew his work and his reputation. I had a lot of confidence in how the photos would turn out.


    Offered here is a rare print, signed by both Mapplethorpe and Harry, which stands as testament to the pair’s creative collaboration.

    • Provenance

      Texas Gallery, Houston, 1979
      Christie's, New York, Photographs Including Property Sold To Benefit The Elton John Aids Foundation, 6 April 2017 lot 192

    • Literature

      K. Honnef, Robert Mapplethorpe, Berlin: VAU, 1997, p. 17
      A. Danto, Mapplethorpe, Kempen: teNeues, 2007, p. 87
      Robert Mapplethorpe: On The Edge, Aarhus: ARos Aarhus Kunstmuseum, 2016, p. 63
      P. Martineau & B. Salvesen, Robert Mapplethorpe: The Photographs, Los Angeles: Getty, 2016, pl. 61 (variant)
      Robert Mapplethorpe, London: Phaidon, 2020, p. 109

    • 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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Deborah Harry

Gelatin silver print, mounted.
35.3 x 35.3 cm (13 7/8 x 13 7/8 in.)
Signed, numbered 1/10 by the artist and additionally signed by Deborah Harry in ink in the margin; signed, dated in ink, copyright credit reproduction limitation stamp on the reverse of the mount.

Full Cataloguing

£10,000 - 15,000 

Sold for £35,560

Contact Specialist

Rachel Peart
Head of Department, London

Yuka Yamaji
Head of Photographs, Europe

General Enquiries
+44 20 7318 4092


London Auction 19 May 2023