Robert Mapplethorpe, the Controversial Photographer

by Jenny Novac on August 21, 2013

Robert Mapplethorpe

In Galashiels, the UK, took place a photo exhibition of American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe which was promoted with a black and white image on which he is smoking a cigarette. The image was made in 1980.

Drew Ketchen, the Community Councillor, considers that this image which is used worldwide encourages people to smoke. The image was used by Scottish Borders Council to advertise the exhibition in Old Gala House, which finished on Sunday.

On the Galashiels CC meeting Ketchen said that he smoked cigarettes in past but he gave it up. He considers that the image of smoking photographer sends a wrong message to the society and people start thinking smoking is cool.

In his turn, Galashiels Councillor John Mitchell said that probably there could be chosen a different image to promote the three-month exhibition. However, this is art and it is impossible to stop everything.

The showcase of original photographs by Mapplethorpe attracted a big number of visitors to  Old Gala House. Thus in June it showed an increase by 49%.

John Mitchell added that generally the response to the exhibition was very positive. The image is recognizable in the entire world and this marketing step showed that it is extremely successful.

The exhibition ended on Sunday and organisers do analyze figures for the total show. However, one thing may be said exactly — the exhibition was very successful and people want more exhibitions of the kind.

Robert Mapplethorpe is a well-known non-conformists who goes beoynd usual things. He became famous in 1970s with his 
photograph’s of New York’s S & M scene. His nude and 
homoerotic photos caused scandals among 
religious and conservative people of America.

In 1986 Mapplethorpe was diagnosed with AIDS and in 1989 he died at the age of 42. He always was controversal and he remains controversal even afther his death.

Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation promotes photography, and fights against AIDS and HIV-related infection.

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