born November 4, 1946 – died March 9, 1989
On March 9 1989 I arrived at work in the London studio where I was an assistant to an advertising photographer and my boss walked in and announced Robert Mapplethorpe had died. Mapplethorpe was one of the most talked about photographer /artist/ image creators of his generation and his photography prints were achieving record amounts in the New York sale rooms.
There was no internet in 1989, so news travelled slowly through people who worked in the business and news stories in London about him were rare and so one hung on to every last word you heard. He was an inspiration to me and so when I travelled to New York later that year to work on a photo shoot, top of my list was to go check out Bond St to see where his studio had been. My career in photography was just beginning while Mapplethorpe’s life had just ended, cut tragically short by Hiv / Aids at only 42 years.
His work divided opinion and caused huge controversy, particularly when his exhibitions came to town. 30 years on from his death I still find his images enduring and I wonder how he would have taken to the digital process we now use to create images. He was a true original who as Patti Smith later said – ‘ Made no apology for his work’. You can read more about him through his foundation which has raised millions of dollars for research into HIV / AIDS and continued to promote photography as an art form. click here for Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation