Friday, November 17, 2006

Mapplethorpe - Flower Portraits

I first noticed these Mapplethorpe flower portraits when I came across the photographer's other work - you know, the stuff that was famously removed from a show in the US, and gave rise to some vigorous debate around the censorship issue. That I posted on earlier.

And then, after I'd picked myself off the floor, and looked again and again, and noticed it was a whip handle stuffed up the artist's pouting arse hole ... I looked at these beautiful floral photos. Actually they speak for themselves, but (you know me) I won't resist putting down a few ideas!

The pictures are wonderfully uncluttered - often just a single flower and a single colour background - paired right down for the maximum sculptural effect. A formal exercise which often incorporates their vase. I particularly like how Mapplethorpe shows the crisp line moving round the outer edge of a flower, like in second and fifth photos below, against an often dark background. And his sensitivity to colours: the selection of the complementary pinks and yellows, with dark blue - above and below.

These black and white photographs have something of the quality of old prints. And it seems the lack of colour enhances their sculptural formal effects.


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