Tulips

Object Details

Title:

Tulips

Artist/Maker(s):

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946 - 1989)

Culture:

American

Date:

1978

Medium:

Gelatin silver print

Dimensions:

35.4 x 35.4 cm (13 15/16 x 13 15/16 in.)

Copyright:

© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Credit Line:

Jointly acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by The David Geffen Foundation, and The J. Paul Getty Trust

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I don't want to leave too much to chance.
--Robert Mapplethorpe

The ruffled silhouette of this bouquet of tulips contrasts with the geometric shapes of black, white and grey around it. Mapplethorpe carefully arranges these elements so that a traditional subject, the floral still life, becomes, quite literally, edgy. The composition is disconcerting, as a viewer is uncertain how the vase can balance on the corner of the table, or how exactly the planes of the foreground and background are angled. The resulting image is at once lovely and vaguely unsettling.

Mapplethorpe's diverse body of work also included fashion, nudes, portraits, and erotic and sadomasochistic subjects, and is distinguished by an elegant, classical sensibility with an undercurrent of darker complexity.

Bibliography

Szarkowski, John. Mirrors and Windows: American Photography Since 1960 (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1978), p. 86.

Danto, Arthur C. Mapplethorpe (New York: Random House, 1992), pl. 91.

Celant, Germano. Mapplethorpe, exh. cat. (London: Hayward Gallery; Electa; SBC, 1992), p. 42. [incorrectly dated in caption as 1977]

Morrisroe, Patricia. Mapplethorpe: A Biography (New York: Random House, 1995), unpaginated (variant), ill. after p. 272.

Mapplethorpe, Robert. Mapplethorpe. Rev. ed. (Kempen, Germany; New York: teNeues, 2007), pl. 91.

Falletti, Franca and Jonathan Nelson, eds. Robert Mapplethorpe: Perfection in Form, exh. cat. (Kempen, Germany; New York: teNeues, 2009), p. 30, fig. 10 (variant); p. 136, pl. 39.