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Intimate portrait of an iconic photographer

Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures. 
The name Robert Mapplethorpe probably gets most people thinking about New York's bohemian life of the 1970 century, controversies and his homoerotic BDSM photographs that upset the public.


All of this could have been good ingredients in a scandal story, but Bailey and Barbato's new documentary about the artist surprises by being the opposite. The film is a close and complex portrait of Mapplethorpe, and instead of focusing on the controversies surrounding him, the film is about the authentic person he was.

Through interviews (both new and archived), hundreds of photos and dark black-and-white versions of recreated events and situations, the film fills the voids in the collective memories of Mapplethorpe. It shows the story of a boy who became a young man, went to New York and became an epoch-making photographer.

However, the film's narrative is not the usual documentary narrative of a famous person's path to fame – instead, the focus is on Mapplethorp's life, his relationship with other people and his emotional development. As Marcus Leatherdale, a former lover, says in the movie: "The only people he wanted to have in his life were rich people, famous people and people he could have sex with."

Broken the rules. Mapplethorpe photographed wealthy people, famous people, their lovers and themselves – but also flowers and children. And among the rich, the famous and his countless lovers, Patti Smith excels with her almost total absence. Their originally romantic relationship that took place during the first years in New York, when they stayed at the Chelsea Hotel and tried their hand at it. . .

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Bianca-Olivia Nita
Nita is a freelance journalist and critic for Ny Tid.

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