It was not Mapplethorpe’s original intention to be a photographer, and from 1970 to 1974, he mainly made assemblage constructions that incorporate images of men from pornographic magazines with found objects and painting. In order to create his own images for these collages, Mapplethorpe turned to photography, initially using a Polaroid SX-70 camera. Interested in portraiture, Mapplethorpe worked as a staff photographer for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine. He also produced album covers for Smith and the group Television, and at the same time photographed socialites and celebrities such as John Paul Getty III and Carolina Herrera. - guggenheim.org
In the late 70s, Mapplethorpe grew increasingly interested in documenting the New York S & M scene. The resulting photographs are shocking for their content and remarkable for their technical and formal mastery. Mapplethorpe told ARTnews in late 1988, "I don't like that particular word 'shocking.' I'm looking for the unexpected. I'm looking for things I've never seen before … I was in a position to take those pictures. I felt an obligation to do them." - mapplethorpe.org
In the 1980s, he concentrated on studio photography, specifically nudes, flowers, and formal portraits that are considerably more refined than his earlier work. After Mapplethorpe died from an AIDS-related illness, his work precipitated national controversy when it was included in “The Perfect Moment,” a traveling exhibition funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. - artsy.net
Robert Mapplethorpe ( November 4, 1946 – March 9, 1989) was an American photographer, known for his sensitive yet blunt treatment of controversial subject-matter in the large-scale, highly stylized black and white medium of photography. His work featured an array of subjects, including celebrity portraits, male and female nudes, self-portraits and still-life images of flowers. His most controversial work is that of the underground BDSM scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s of New York City.
I went into photography because it seemed like the perfect vehicle for commenting on the madness of today's existence.
If I am at a party, I want to be at the party. Too many photographers use the camera to avoid participating in things. They become professional observers.
I'm not photographing anything naked these days. I haven't been concentrating on bodies recently.
The more pictures you see, the better you are as a photographer.
I'm looking for the unexpected. I'm looking for things I've never seen before.
I played around with the flowers and the lighting, so that was a good way to educate myself.
The photographs that are art have to be separated from the rest - then preserved.
This AIDS stuff is pretty scary. I hope I don't get it.
People don't have time to wait for somebody to paint their portraits anymore. The money is in photography.
My lifestyle is bizarre, but the only thing you need to know is where the darkroom is.