Robert Mapplethorpe was an American photographer known for his black-and-white portraits and for documenting New York’s S&M scene. He was concerned with Classical aspects of beauty, whether in his nudes, floral still lifes, or self-portraits—light, shadow, composition, and form were central to all his work. “I don’t think that there’s that much difference between a photograph of a fist up someone’s ass and a photograph of carnations in a bowl,” the artist said. While Mapplethorpe did not agree with the claim that his provocative images were “shocking,” his work came under fire from the religious right in the late 1980s for its supposed obscenity, sparking a national discussion as to whether the US government should fund the arts at all.
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