When Robert Mapplethorpe first used a Polaroid camera in the early 1970s he taught himself about light and exposure by photographing flowers. He shot arrangements in his loft and sometimes made studies in the homes of friends in London or New York. While Mapplethorpe shot roses, orchids, snapdragons, daisies, tulips and others in styles ranging from pure to dark, to sensual and erotic, among his favourites were orchids that threw a shadow resembling a devil’s head. He called these his New York flowers and they form part of a major new exhibition investigating Mapplethorpe’s relationship with underground movements in the Big Apple. Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium, accompanied by a Phaidon book on the work (above), covers the full range of the maverick’s art and his own experimentation.
Co-organised by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the J. Paul Getty Museum, Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium takes a retrospective look into the influential American photographer’s working methods and materials. Both exhibitions at the two institutions run until July 31, 2016. lacma.org