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Robert Mapplethorpe
1946 - 1989

Mirror Image, 1987
Schellemann München, New York Label, with title and date, signed in ink and numbered 8/18 (on the reverse)
two gelatin silver prints and coloured mirror plate
47,2 x 134,7 cm. (including frame)


About the work


Mirror Image

Mirror Image is a work made in the last years of the artist. In this photograph Mapplethorpe thinks over the enigma of the body, where the illuminated skin discards its opacity and fragility and become a potent carnal shell.

Mirror Image reveals a dialectic between every duality you might imagine: material and inmaterial, tangible and intangible, known and unknown. It is based on the apparent differences, that in the end happen to be fictional: what is ephemeral and mobile, dark and light.

It is based on the apparent differences, that in the end happen to be fictional: what is ephemeral and mobile, dark and light. It also follows Mapplethorpe’s thoughts about the “glorious bodies”, to celebrate a historical superficiality in which what seems divine is nothing but pure appearance.

This work is also saturated with poetic connotations, disorienting the focus or the central reading of the photography, leaving one square left empty with the reflecting image of a mirror.

The general view over this work is the final example of Mapplethorpe’s obsessions with control, reflection and duality, but is also the “fleshy shell” of photography, in harmony with the framing materials were engaging in a subtle and outstanding game, something, again, between tender and torturous, something sweetly erotic.


About the artist


Robert Mapplethorpe

In the 1970s, Robert Mapplethorpe and musician, poet, and artist Patti Smith lived together in New York’s infamous Chelsea Hotel where he started shooting Polaroids to use in his collages. Drawn to photography, Mapplethorpe got a Hasselblad medium-format camera and began taking pictures of his friends and acquaintances—artists, musicians, socialites, pornographic film stars, and members of the gay S & M underground. Despite his shocking content, Mapplethorpe was a formalist, interested in composition, color, texture, balance, and, most of all, beauty. 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.

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