People Are Still Arguing About Robert Mapplethorpe, and It’s Not About Porn

His Photos No Longer Have Shock Value but They Still Challenge Us

Nearly three decades after the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe escalated the culture wars and made him an embattled hero in the art world, his work continues to provoke and inspire, said panelists at a Zócalo Public Square/Getty “Open Art” event.

An overflow crowd gathered at the West Hollywood City Council Chambers to hear about the history of Mapplethorpe’s controversial works as well as his place in our conversation about perfection and exploitation in art, which continues with a major retrospective on view now at the Los Angeles County Museum of …

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I Defended Mapplethorpe in the Trial That Drew the Line Between Art and Obscenity

Cincinnati’s Famous Case Tussled With the Photographer’s Work and Its Place in Our Culture

On the Friday in 1990 when the collection of 175 photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe, called “The Perfect Moment,” previewed at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) in Cincinnati, 8,000 people showed …

Why I Don’t Blame Cincinnati for Putting Art on Trial

Mapplethorpe’s Work Can Promote Tolerance and Understanding, But Not in the Way You Think

I grew up in a suburb of Cincinnati where even the rebellions were quaint. We drank wine coolers, drove before we got our licenses because an unusually cool senior was …

The Photography Collector Who Legitimized an Art Form

Robert Mapplethorpe’s Partner Samuel J. Wagstaff Amassed a Trove of Images That Changed Fine Art Photography Forever

If Robert Mapplethorpe popularized photography as a fine art form, his longtime partner Samuel J. Wagstaff Jr. gave it legitimacy. The former curator of the Wadsworth Athenaeum and the Detroit …

Capturing Queer America, 30 Years After Mapplethorpe

Molly Landreth’s Portraits Recall Classic Images While Obliterating Familiar Narratives

In classic gay coming-of-age stories, the small-town misfit escapes to the big city—the bigger the better. Robert Mapplethorpe left his home in Floral Park, Queens for art school in Brooklyn …