The J. Paul Getty Museum

Ken Moody

Object Details


Ken Moody


Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946 - 1989)




New York, New York, United States (Place Created)




Gelatin silver print

Object Number:



38.5 × 38.7 cm (15 3/16 × 15 1/4 in.)


© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Credit Line:

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

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Object Description

The model Ken Moody poses face front, eyes closed, centered in a simple composition characteristic of the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's clean aesthetic. His perfectly hairless head, face, and body, the result of alopecia universalis, appear to take on a sculptural weight and dimension. The dark shadows of the background seem to lap at his neck, shoulders and under his arms, as if he emerges from a timeless, dark sea. The sophisticated lighting also sculpts the curves of his face, collarbone, and chest to further heighten their elegant forms.

This figure study is part of a large body of work featuring African-American men. Mapplethorpe was absorbed by the texture and color of their skin, which he referred to as bronze. He used Agfa's Portriga 118 paper for its ability to produce the velvety texture and glow discernible in this reproduction. His strong, uncluttered compositions of statuesque male models fused a classical sensibility with homoerotic content at a time when the male nude was not a popular subject among camera artists.

In Focus: Robert Mapplethorpe (October 23, 2012 to March 24, 2013)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 23, 2012 to March 24, 2013
Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium (March 15 to July 31, 2016)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 15 to July 31, 2016
Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium (September 10, 2016 to March 4, 2018)
  • Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Montréal), September 10, 2016 to January 22, 2017
  • Kunsthal Rotterdam, April 22 to August 27, 2017
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), October 28, 2017 to March 4, 2018

Mapplethorpe, Robert. Certain People: A Book of Portraits (Pasadena: Twelvetrees Press, 1985), unpaginated.

Mapplethorpe, Robert. Black Book (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1986), p. 91.

Marshall, Richard. Robert Mapplethorpe, exh. cat. (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art in association with New York Graphic Society Books, 1988), p. 127.

Danto, Arthur C. Mapplethorpe (New York: Random House, 1992), pl. 223.

Celant, Germano. Mapplethorpe, exh. cat. (London: Hayward Gallery; Electa; SBC, 1992), p. 56, 197, ill.

Celant, Germano and Arkady Ippolitov. Robert Mapplethorpe and the Classical Tradition: Photographs and Mannerist Prints, exh. cat. (Berlin: Deutsche Guggenheim; New York: D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, 2004), pl. 12.

Falletti, Franca and Jonathan Nelson, eds.Robert Mapplethorpe: Perfection in Form, exh. cat. (Kempen, Germany; New York: teNeues, 2009), p. 196, pl. 89.