Talk:Robert Mapplethorpe

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Benjamin Greene[edit]

I'm not sure that the "Benjamin Greene" reference is correct. Robert worked a great deal with a gay porn actor/model named Thomas (whose last name escapes me). His porn name was Joe Simmons, and he passed away in '96. Is there a source for this name "Benjamin Greene"? If not, it should be removed or modified.


I have to say that it seems as if this article highly glosses over the fact that MAJOR portions of Mapplethorpe's work (certainally at least 25% of it) were hardly simply "homoerotic", but in fact graphic, sexually explicit photographs of controversial sexual acts such as fisting and so forth... Pacian 06:44, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

  • I added a sentence describing Mapplethorpe's famous (or infamous) bullwhip pic, since he received a great deal of publicity for this photo. I have to wonder, is it really accurate to say:

    He is perhaps best remembered, however, for his series of closeup photographs of flowers. These highly polished and stylized photographs showed the plants' reproductive parts in extreme detail, intended to echo his more conventional homoerotic works. Mapplethorpe's treated his prints like paintings; he employed special printing techniques and gave them exotic frames.

    IMO, to the extent people have heard of Mapplethorpe at all, they think of the bullwhip pic and the NEA controversy. Firebug 06:52, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

added some more information[edit]

Hi there
Good call above, I think.

I've added information about where Mapplethorpe is buried and one especially notable book of his photographs that was issued after his death. I think the article could benefit from a list of his commonly available photography books, such as The Black Book, Ten by Ten, etc. I'll try to put one together, but if anyone would like to start, go for it...

Should I put Autoportrait in the bibliography? Is that where a list of his own work would go as well?


Math Tinder 04:14, 2 March 2006 (UTC)


More fair use images should be added for a more representative display of his work. I'm collecting some high quality scans to consider for this... Any suggestions for works to include? Including more images would be consistent with other articles about artists, such as Rembrandt. Tomyumgoong 17:50, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

We should have a representative sample of each of the major genres in which he worked. I would especially encourage you to include some of his great floral prints that are frequently overlooked. The hard part will be finding fair use images. SteveHopson 18:06, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
I agree entirely. Flowers, self portraits, celebrity portraits, gay bondage, some of his work with the female body and so on. Tomyumgoong 18:23, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
I'd kind of like to see someone upload one of his self-portraits - he did so many and it seems like a shame that none are on here. One which would be particularly appropiate and ironic, considering his status as a lightning-rod for controversy, would be the photo of him holding a gun standing underneath and inverted pentagram. Does anyone know if any of these are fair use? LittleRoughRhinestone 23:35, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

The infamous "bullwhip" photo[edit]

I don't believe that the link which is posted, which purportedly links to Mapplethorpe's "bullwhip" photo, is correct. There are at least two, maybe three self-portraits which Mapplethorpe made of himself with some kind of whip inserted into his anal cavity (like this one [1], for example), and the one that is linked to seems to have the least potential out of all of them to shock or offend. Could someone knowledgeable clear this up, potentially? LittleRoughRhinestone 23:33, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Is there a legal problem in putting the above link in the article? Would it break copyright, for instance? Michael Glass 00:47, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
As no-one has commented, I have put the link into the article. Michael Glass 00:54, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Weasel Words[edit]

The general feeling of the section I tagged seems to be defending Mapplethorpe and using loaded language to criticize the vies of his opponents. Any thoughts? --Scorpios 20:13, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

I have removed words that appeared to sanitise the article. Any feedback? Michael Glass 01:04, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Mapplethorpe Tryptics[edit]

I just finished watching "Dirty Pictures", a docudrama about the Cincinnati trial. In that they made many references to his Tryptics. Pictures that have more artistic merit as a set than they do apart. I just tried looking up more information on this and found nothing. Can anybody add a section here expanding on this topic? Gbeacock 07:54, 27 March 2007 (UTC) Gord Beacock

The word is spelled "triptych." Maybe that will help. TJLink 19:42, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

Weasel words[edit]

  • This controversy was not accidental, as Mapplethorpe intended to use his unquestionable skills as a classic photographer to display gay sexuality. Mapplethorpe's work functions in a postmodern sense on many levels and raises a variety of questions regarding the lexicon of the classic male nude and its tie to sexuality, the role and construction of gender and sexuality in society, the role of form and content in traditional and contemporary art, the communicative aspect of imagery, and censorship issues regarding museum space, tax dollars, and, in a general sense, all imagery.

I removed the above section as it is written in a gushing, fan-site tone of adoration not suitable for an encyclopaedia and without sources it constitutes personal opinion at worst, original research at best. --Brideshead 09:17, 7 May 2007 (UTC)


I think it is worth having some information about how he died. He died of AIDS in 1989, I think it is worth including this detail in his biography. I actually visited this page to find out how he died, but I had to look elsewhere.Wizlop (talk) 13:37, 25 December 2007 (UTC)


Particularly about the UCE controversy. Can we get some? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:53, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Clarification on UCE controversy[edit]

The article about the UCE controversy needs to be clarified. It does not give a comprehensive description of the explicit photo's themselves. (talk) 04:38, 16 February 2008 (UTC)


I know many people think that Robert Mapplethorpe was gay/homosexual because of his homoerotic art but I've read numerous biographies where he is described as being bisexual and he did have romantic and fulfilling sexual relationships with both men and women including people such as Patti Smith (he and Patti Smith were lovers) and Lisa Lyon. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:45, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

Please specifically cite one or more of those sources if you change the article again. Controversial unsourced edits may be reverted. MANdARAX  XAЯAbИAM 10:19, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

How does one put a source in an article? It's a well known fact. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:45, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

Instructions on how to add sources are at WP:Citing sources. --Tryptofish (talk) 17:37, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
List of bisexual people: G–M gives a reference "Mapplethorpe A biography, Patricia Morrisroe. 1995. Random House Inc.", which I happen to own. There's no reference to the word bisexual in the index, the only reference to orientation in the index, pages 57-60, documents his relationship with Patti Smith but the talks about his gay, not bisexual, identity coming out. While I might be tempted personally identify Mapplethrope as bisexual based on the Smith relationship, WP use of orientation is presumed to rest on self-identification, and again, Morrisroe's book doesn't provide sourcing for RM as bisexual. Several parts of that book clearly do describe him as or as self-id'ing as homosexuality, the closest exception I could find (and it's a large book) was page 230 thought of himself as "mostly homosexual". --je deckertalk 19:46, 14 October 2010 (UTC)

That makes him bisexual then. If he were really actually gay or homosexual he would be fully/completely gay/homosexual and not attracted to any woman at all let alone Patti Smith or Lisa Lyons or the other women he had as lovers, and he would not have self identified as "mostly homosexual".

"Mostly homosexual" is just another term for being bisexual. It's like how there are people who consider themselves "mostly straight" or "heteroflexible" and these are both just terms for being bisexual since if you are really straight/hetero you're not going to be attracted to the same sex/gender at all. To claim that Robert Mapplethorpe is not bisexual is an example of biphobia and bisexual erasure.

If wikipedia judges someone's sexual orientation based on how they self identify what about if the person was gay or bisexual and closeted and called themselves "straight" or if they did not identify as either gay or bisexual during their lifetime?

These articles also identifies Mapplethorpe as being bisexual. and —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:06, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

Since the publishing of "Just Kids" the book written by Patti Smith about her life with Mapplethorpe, it is now known he was not only attracted to males but also females so he was bisexual not gay. It could be great if Wikipedia does respect his memory and his sexuality. he is not a gay icon but a biseuxal icon. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:08, 23 May 2011 (UTC)

The issue of whether an individual is "really" bisexual or gay is considerably more complicated than that, and as stated above, Wikipedia's use of sexual orientation markers rests heavily on the individual's self-identification. Absent any indication that Mapplethorpe self-identified as "bisexual", it's inappropriate to use that word in an unqualified way. (On the other hand, it would be acceptable to say "Mapplethorpe was described as bisexual by reliable sources X, Y and Z" to make the point that there is some dispute over the accuracy of the term.) —Tim Pierce (talk) 16:19, 23 May 2011 (UTC)

I think we'd all agree that Patti Smith knew Mapplethorpe better than almost everyone. According to her "Just Kids" autobiography, and her straightforward description of Mapplethorpe's sexual activities and the way he himself regarded them, he was a bisexual who preferred men. In Smith's view, bisexuals almost always prefer one sex, although they may have romantic relationships with both. The French writer Colette, for example, had bisexual experience but (according to Judith Thurman's biography) clearly preferred men. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Younggoldchip (talkcontribs) 21:35, 18 November 2011 (UTC)


As in "Maple", or to rhyme with "Apple"? DS (talk) 11:43, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

As in "maple".
Peter Isotalo 08:57, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

Movie Dirty Pictures[edit]

The movie [2] has an article on de (de:Dirty Pictures). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:21, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

There's a see also to our page on it, here. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:27, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

Sam Wagstaff[edit]

Why doesn't this article mention Sam Wagstaff? Mapplethorpe's long-time lover and patron? I'm no art expert, and I don't feel qualified to edit, but this absence baffles me. --Joan S. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:00, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

Assuming that there is reliable sourcing, I don't see any reason why not. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:00, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

On refined aesthetics[edit]

One of the phrases of the biography section reads "In the 1980s he refined his aesthetic, photographing statuesque male and female nudes, delicate flower still lifes, and highly formal portraits of artists and celebrities".

Is the term "refine" appropriate here , as it seems more like a switch in subject matter? It sounds too much as a personal opinion assuming that his aesthetic wasn't refined before.

I don't want to just edit it out before hearing more opinions on it first.

--tregiani (talk) 16:50, 10 February 2013 (UTC)

That's a good question, and I'm not sure what the right answer is. I agree with you that the phrase sounds wrong, but I also note that the context is his expanding from photos of friends, etc., to more composed subject matter. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:29, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
"By the 1980's his subject matter for photography focussed on female nudes, delicate flower still lifes, and formal portraits of artists and celebrities." Bus stop (talk) 22:08, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
Yes, that's much better. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:22, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done, with a few minor tweaks. Thanks. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:09, 11 February 2013 (UTC)