Saturday, August 07, 2010

The X Portfolio | Robert Mapplethorpe







There are ten (10) photographs in the entire X portfolio. Here, I have presented five, half of the entire series. I have seen them all, and they are very difficult to find online. Tune in later...I may need to do some scanning. And in the words of the late, great Saint Mickey "a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!"

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12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mappelthorpe's "work" was pure pornography. Absolutely disgusting and depraved. Exactly what one would expect from a flaming homosexual. It comes as no surprised he died from AIDS.

Sunday, December 12, 2010 at 11:55:00 AM EST  
Anonymous B.man said...

It comes as no surprise to me an "Anonymous" comment is left here. Poor spelling and grammar as well.

Mapplethorpe's strongest work was his X Portfolio, which is more documentary than anything else. I tend to see this work as photojournalism.

You cannot deny the still beauty of his flowers, statuary and portraits, and yet the style remains the same.

Flaming homosexual? No surprise he died from AIDS? I smell repression here.

But I thank you for taking the time out to make a comment and actually read my blog.

Even revulsion is a better feeling than no feeling at all.

Sunday, December 12, 2010 at 1:03:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Beingmommakel said...

I just finished reading Patti Smith's book Just Kids. I had never heard of Robert before. Thank you for taking the time to post some of his work. He was truly a talented artist. Unfortunately there are still ignorant people in this world as "Anonymous" post above proves.

In reading Patti's book she shows Robert was a compassionate internally tormented artist. Thankfully he did not fall into line with what society and his family expected of him. He was able to make his own path and create. Which I think was the most important thing for him even in times of real hardship. His X portfolio was just a snippet of his work. It was a part of his life. He took from all parts of his life in creating his work. According to the book he knew that his work was not for everyone. He never intended it to be. He wasn't trying to make his work mainstream. He was fulfilling his creative nature. I personally find his X portfolio fascinating. It kind of boggles my mind that he is able to capture something that I could not look at in real life and really make me see it and even make it beautiful in some way.

As for implying that someone should die a long suffering disease such as AIDS for their sexual orientation shame on you "Anonymous"! Robert Mappelthorpe and many many other people dieing and or dead because of AIDS is nothing but a tragedy.

Friday, December 17, 2010 at 3:32:00 AM EST  
Anonymous B.man said...

Thank you for your eloquent comment. I have yet to read JUST KIDS by Patti Smith, although I am looking forward to it very much.

It is clear, from looking at the breadth of Mapplethorpe's work, that he was tormented. He was, basically, "taken care of" his entire life, and for that entire life, he made art in an attempt to exorcise his demons. I personally believe Mapplethorpe to be a classic manic-depressive person who self-medicated his entire life, but felt "compelled" to make his art. If you read his authorized biography by Patricia Morrisroe, you will even learn that he, and several assistants early on, didn't know a thing about light meters and the mechanics of taking a photograph. The brilliant Tom Baril was solely responsible for the interpretation of Mapplethorpe's work in the darkroom, something Mapplethorpe himself acknowledged many times. He knew NOTHING about processing film and making prints, but he DID know how he wanted them presented. Grand photographs which are, in reality, windows into his soul, and what he himself SAW and HOW he saw it. Like a song which is in a songwriter's head before it's put to paper and played. Was there an element of "conveyor-belt photography" towards the end of Mapplethorpe's life, wherein Dimitri Llevas would find a vase, choose the flowers, and arrange them with the help of his assistant (I think it was Javier Gonzalez at the time), with Robert just sitting in his chair, and tripping the shutter. Perhaps. What is little known is that Mapplethorpe's last portrait was of the Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, for the cover of TIME Magazine. Mapplethorpe, sick as he was from AIDS, was more concerned about hiding his smoking and cigarettes from the Surgeon General than he was an HIV+ individual. I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Robert Mapplethorpe in 1986 at The Wadsworth Atheneaum in Hartford CT for his MATRIX exhibition. This is the very museum where Sam Wagstaff was once the director. Mapplethorpe was kind to spend a few minutes speaking with me, and even autographed a very rare German catalog of his work from 1980. Mapplethorpe was a very rare artist, and I am pleased beyond believe that I was able to see the rise, and subsequent fall (or demise) of Mapplethorpe, an American artist in the highest caliber. I even saw a very rare exhibition held in NYC sometime between 1986 - 1988 at THE PALLADIUM nightclub in the corridor (hallway, whatever you wanted to call it) on the way to the VIP "Mike Todd" Room. Amazing. I only wonder what he would have done had he lived. I mourn his death as greatly as I mourn the death of the lead singer of Queen, one Freddie Mercury. What surprises me most, and is very perplexing, is that Freddie was known to go to the sex clubs in NYC (The Saint et al) in the mid-80s, even waiting on line because he wanted no special treatment. Why did Mapplethorpe not ever photograph Freddie Mercury, who wanted only the best photographers (Hurrell and Lord Snowdon are two) to shoot him. Mapplethorpe's portraits of women are compelling: Susan Sarandon, Grace Jones (stripped down with no makeup!) Deborah Harry and Sigourney Weaver. Brilliance cut short. Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I greatly appreciate it.

Friday, December 17, 2010 at 12:30:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Laura Kuhn said...

I, too, just finished Patti Smith's book and have been scouring the internet to see some of Mapplethorpe's work ever since. Patti Smith's take on how and why Mapplethorpe made art is very illuminating and helped me understand -- not dismiss and judge -- the photos here. Thanks for posting.

Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 10:01:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Vanessa said...

Thank you so much for posting some of the extraordinary X portfolio. Patti Smith's book moved me as well, and has motivated me to rekindle my interest in Mapplethorpe's work. I haven't seen these for a very long time - perhaps 20 years ago on a film documentary. What strikes me now is the beauty of the images and composition. However, I am not as shocked by the graphic S&M as I thought I would be. It's not that I'm a prude - quite the opposite. But I remember the images having a literally breath-taking effect all those years ago. Now, in 2011, the world is so much more sensitised to graphic, available porn including BDSM on the internet, that the shock value has been lessened. Perhaps the world is now a bit more mature about the diversity of sexual desires and behaviours. However, it's a pity (and perhaps a travesty) that such a societal change may be due to an avalanche of corny, mass-marketed pictures, rather than a small number of these ground-breaking exquisite photographic artworks.

Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 1:12:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the anonymous person who stated: "Absolutely disgusting and depraved:" That revulsion you feel, that hate, that emotion, is precisely what makes these photographs "art." "Art" in it's purest sense causes the viewer to emote, either good or bad, but, it does cause you to feel....something. An artist tries very hard to make the viewer emote so apparently Mapplethorpe did his job very well indeed. Many of Mapplethorpes photographs aren't exactly my cup of tea but being an artist I recognize that they truly are....art.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 8:57:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting. I love his work. Not all of it is my cup of tea either. But I agree as an artist he was just amazing and he inspires my own work.

And to the flaming homo comment, honey don't hate just because you aren't ready to accept who you are.

Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 1:05:00 PM EST  
Blogger CameronObscura said...

Holy shit! I was so pissed off as soon as I read 'Anonymous Fucktard's' comment. Happily the rest of you said everything I was going to say to that ignorant cretin.
I too read 'Just Kids' and it opened my eyes to who he really was; a genuinely sweet, empathetic, insecure gay man who just happened to fall into photography. My very favorite picture of his is an old, worn American flag with the sun shining through it's threadbare fabric. He was an artist's artist becuase he lived and breathed it. The art world has been left with a giant void upon his and countless other's too-soon deaths. RIP Robert.

Sunday, January 8, 2012 at 1:30:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just finished reading Just Kids and found it a profound story of the maturation of two very influential artists. There's a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit in an art gallery in my city and I plan to go next week. These are amazing photos and I would agree with the comment that these would be absolutely ground breaking at the time.
Thank you for sharing these pictures.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 10:42:00 PM EST  
Blogger B.man said...

Thanks again for commenting. I'm flattered so many people actually commented.

I will say, for the first time on record, that as a 20 y/o youth, seeing Mapplethorpe's work for the first time, I considered it breath-taking. His work actually moved me to seek out the darkness of the sado-masochistic world, as a voyeur. I have seen so much of this lifestyle, and ironically, William Friedkin came out with his most controversial movie CRUISING at about the same time. I was always fascinated with the looks on the faces of the men who were being beaten, electrocuted for sexual purposes, cut, in a tribal manner, or having hot wax dripped on the most sensitive parts of their skin. I remember one time seeing a man have his nipples hooked up with jumper cables connected to a rheostat all while strapped, quite uncomfortably, to a St Andrew's Cross (almost like an inverted cross) and I knelt down and just looked at his eyes as the rheostat was turned up all the way. The next thing I knew, I was pulled up from behind (I was kneeling down to see his face, as he was inverted) by two "bar backs" and they wanted me out of the club. Let's see. I paid the $10 cover charge, I was drinking (but always non-alcoholic so I would be in control) so I was spending money, and I wasn't "bothering" anyone. I was told to leave the club. When I asked why I was being asked to leave, I was told "you are making us nervous." I asked (demanded) my $10 back, left, and went to another club, where someone was being double-fisted on a Harley...while the minions watched while they feebly masturbated.

There are so many creatures under the rocks these days.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 11:11:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Jack Fritscher said...

For more info on Robert, please check out my memoir of our live together titled "Mapplethorpe: Assault with a Deadly Camera" (1994). Or visit my free gay research site and click on the word MAPPLETHORPE to read the text of that book free, as well as many other Mapplethorpe history essays.
www JackFritscher com

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 8:11:00 PM EST  

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