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Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946 - 1989)
New York, New York, United States (Place created)
Gelatin silver print
35.4 x 35.4 cm (13 15/16 x 13 15/16 in.)
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation
Jointly acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by The David Geffen Foundation, and The J. Paul Getty Trust
I don't want to leave too much to chance.
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.