The Lessons of Mapplethorpe

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It might be ill-advised to reduce an artist’s life and work to a single observation, the magic key that unlocks everything, but in the case of Robert Mapplethorpe there is a pronounced duality—in the themes and subjects depicted in his “icy”, graphically stylized black-and-white photographs; in the dark-angel personae he cultivated; and in the controversies all of these facets wittingly or unwittingly sparked during his short lifetime.

Kevin Moore on the life and lessons of Robert Mapplethorpe.


Lyz's writing has been published in the New York Times Motherlode, Jezebel, Aeon, Pacific Standard, and others. Her book on midwestern churches is forthcoming from Indiana University Press. She has her MFA from Lesley and skulks about on Twitter @lyzl. Lyz is a member of The Rumpus Advisory Board and a full-time staff writer for the Columbia Journalism Review. More from this author →