Robert Mapplethorpe is widely regarded as one of the most important photographic artists of the late twentieth century. The work on display at The Atkinson includes portraits of many inﬂuential artists and celebrities of the New York cultural scene in the 1980’s. These include the artist’s friend and muse Patti Smith and fellow artists Andy Warhol and David Hockney.
The exhibition also includes work from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when Mapplethorpe was documenting the New York S&M scene. The resulting photographs are shocking for their content and remarkable for their technical and formal mastery. In 1986 Mapplethorpe was diagnosed with AIDS. Despite his illness, he accelerated his creative efforts and continued to broaden the scope of his photographic inquiry.
The Whitney Museum of American Art mounted his ﬁrst major American museum retrospective in 1988, one year before his death in 1989. His vast, provocative, and powerful body of work has established him as one of the most important artists of the twentieth century