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Robert Mapplethorpe is best known for pushing boundaries in art and life. His photography has sparked controversy for its unapologetic depiction of sex and sexuality. Less appreciated is how Mapplethorpe influenced artists, museums, media, and the teaching of the arts. How did Mapplethorpe change photography—and the perception of photography as an art? Mapplethorpe’s work was experimental and covered a range of subjects and genres—from celebrity portraits and still-life images of flowers, to nudes of black men and female bodybuilders. In this vast output, what were Mapplethorpe’s most important works? As the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum present a major retrospective of his work, J. Paul Getty Museum curator Paul Martineau, LACMA curator Britt Salvesen, photography collector Steve Reinstein, and painter and Yale art historian Jonathan Weinberg visit Zócalo to discuss how Mapplethorpe continues to teach us, even now, a quarter century after his untimely death at age 42.
*Photo courtesy Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.