Robert Mapplethorpe - Photographs London Thursday, November 5, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Christie's, New York, 8 October 1993, lot 483

  • Literature

    Robert Mapplethorpe, exh. cat, Frankfurter Kunstverein, 1981, n.p.
    R. Mapplethorpe, Certain People: A Book of Portraits, Twelvetrees Press, 1985, cover (detail) and n.p.
    A. C. Danto, M. Holborn, D. Levas, Mapplethorpe, teNeues, 2007, p. 39

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘I once asked Mapplethorpe what he does with himself when he poses for the camera, and he replied that he tries to find that part of himself that is self-confdent’
    Susan Sontag

    With his 1950s hairdo, the dark leather jacket and a cigarette in the corner of his mouth, Mapplethorpe portrays himself as the quintessential rebel from a bygone era. We immediately are reminded of another cultural icon James Dean and his 1955 flim Rebel Without a Cause. For Certain People, his 1985 book of portraits, Mapplethorpe chose this self portrait for the cover image.

    Prints of this image have been acquired by the following institutions: Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Getty Museum/LACMA, Los Angeles; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Tate/National Galleries of Scotland, UK; and Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid. Consistent with other early prints from the edition, this print, numbered ‘2/15’, is signed, dated and numbered in ink by Mapplethorpe in the margin.

    Phillips is proud to sponsor the upcoming Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), 20 March – 31 July, 2016. A companion exhibition will be presented concurrently at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

  • 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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Self Portrait

Gelatin silver print.
35.7 x 35.7 cm (14 x 14 in.)
Signed, dated and numbered 2/15 in ink in the margin; signed, dated by the photographer, titled 'Self Portrait with Cigarette, N.Y.C.', dated in an unidentified hand, all in ink, and copyright credit reproduction limitation stamp on the reverse of the flush-mount.

This work is number 2 from the edition of 15 + 3 AP. As of this writing, the other prints from the edition are all held in various collections.

£50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for £98,500

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


London Auction 6 November 2015 2pm