I just got out of the film about the photographer Robert mapplethorpe.
This was the last self portrait he had made, as he faced death from AIDS, during his last exhibit called “moments”. He tried to capture life in moments, horrible, beautiful, confusing, full of pain and pleasure, full.
I knew Robert Mapplethorpe as Patti Smith’s boyfriend from her autobiographical book “Just kids”, that describes their early years together, 20 year old and beautiful and experimenting in art, poor and young and at the beginning of their careers, she would go on to becoming a singer-song writer ,poet, writer, and he focused on images using the camera to express what interested him.
The film is a very thorough biography , a son of a large Catholic family who had gone to church every sunday , the father loved taking photos, but Robert , graduating high school at 16, could not wait to change and shock the world as an artist.
It is as though he had known that he would die too young, at 42, that made him so ambitious, working constantly at perfecting the images, working at first of all understanding himself by examining in public what made him excited and so he discovered porn by stealing a male porn magazine from a blind newsstand man, and there began the exploration that ended up in court of law after the more conservative politicians objected to the sexual images presented as art.
I can see why Robert Mapplethorpe needed to go through his devil stage till he found his angelic side too, and vice versa, i really can understand that he needed to explore, but i am more impressed by his flowers, who are just as sexual, or his male nudes shown from behind, shy and alluring so much more than the sexually explicit photos, it is just so much easier on the eye when the sexual organs are not manipulated in S&M which he needed to explore but perhaps are not everyone’s cup of tea..
A dead rabbit held by a beautiful naked man, sexual acts that cause pain, where is the limit, one may ask ? The limit of torture ? The age of the viewer should be limited since some of the photos are cruel and definitely violent but other than that , for the adult viewer, i do not see a reason to limit the ability to view the subconscious of the artist.
My favourite photo are that of the black bald man with his eyes closed, next to the white bald man with his eyes wide open in what seems to me a cruel stare; though some see this as the black man representing the subconscious and the white the conscious mind, i see it the black man as representing beautiful dreaming and the white man a cold blooded cruel reality but that is just me .
Robert Mapplethorpe is very popular and that sort of puts me off being a fan but other than that , there is so much to learn and to see.
Sadly money is mentioned and indeed one of Robert Mapplethorpe’s most disturbing images of a man in a suit is very expensive, the prices are the way value is given to art, and that sadly , is not how i see it, anyhow.
I enjoyed visiting the family, seeing the influences, the extensive interviews with artists, models , lovers, friends, it was like Robert Mapplethorpe in a nut shell, but i know that art must be explored slowly, image by image and so this was a bit overwhelming as the images were too but there was so much there, so much to think about but as i looked around and saw the introverted white haired swiss surrounding me, i had to flee, i walked out to the beautiful Autumn day, bought chestnuts from a dark man from the middle east in a stand facing the opera house, and took a photo of the trees with their bright yellow leaves in sharp contrast to the white marble building and Roman statues and the red swiss flag ..