#QueerHeroes Day 23.
Mapplethorpe was raised in a strict Catholic family before moving to New York in the 60’s. There, he met the legendary Patti Smith and the two began living together.
Originally, Mapplethorpe mostly worked with sketches and collage. He would visit magazine shops to purchase numerous issues of porn magazines, then cut them up in his apartment at the historic Chelsea Hotel.
It got frustrating because most of the magazines would be wrapped in plastic, so he wouldn’t be able to know if the contents were worth purchasing til after he’d done so (though he was sometimes too broke to buy them and would get caught stealing them).
Another Chelsea Hotel resident gave him a secondhand camera and Mapplethorpe began experimenting with photography, starting with candid photographs including those of Patti Smith (He shot the cover for her breakthrough album Horses).
Mapplethorpe came out as bisexual and his work began to delve into the cruising culture of the 70’s, synthesizing leather and sex and religious iconography.
He even did a book of photographs of flowers that somehow still teemed with eroticism. Mapplethorpe even made flowers NSFW. His photography and unyielding documentation of S&M, queer love, and perceived perversion took New York and eventually the world by storm.
He passed away from AIDS in 1989. A biopic called “Mapplethorpe” will be released later this year.