Robert Mapplethorpe: The Magic In The Muse...

By Lucy Harbron - 15:23

I first encountered Robert Mapplethorpe inside a book I bought for £2.99 randomly in HMV on an autumn day in 2013. Patti Smith's Just Kids changed my life; it sent me spiralling into a fascination for 1960/70s New York and welcomed me with open arms into the private emotions inside Robert and Patti's intensely, heartbreakingly beautiful love. Patti and Robert's trust in each other and the way they lived for art inspired me so much that it honestly took over my life and still effects me so greatly. I even wrote my A-level literature coursework on the value of Just Kids as I've never connected to a book like that before in my life. It's incredible and I can't recommend it enough.

I couldn't believe it when I heard that Robert's work was going to be shown so close to where I live! The exhibition was beautiful done and I felt so lucky to be able to see his work up-close and personal. The Bowes Museum always has amazing exhibitions so I can't wait to see what they do next.

"I learned from him that often contradiction is the clearest way to truth"

Robert Mapplethorpe was an artist. He photographed the stars of the 60s but refused to cater to social restrictions and taboos. His work is a contradiction dealing with controversial subject matters in a way that's both intense and subtle, it's both influenced by and totally rejects his religious upbringing, it manages to capture the stars of the 60s in a way which is raw but still connects to their ego, their 'brand'. In her book Patti reminiscences about her soul-mate Robert presenting him as a man of conflict, with so much life inside of him she thought it impossible that she would ever know all the sides of him, and I think that really shows in his range of work.

But for me it's the portraits I love. I love how Robert managed to take these huge 60s icons like Andy Warhol and Iggy Pop and photographs them in a way which humanises them. The poses are so natural and effortless but shows their spirit. They're not superficial, they're powerful.

Honestly I got a little emotional just walking around as I feel so close to Robert and Patti, I love their love and I can't suggest enough that you take 5 minutes to google their story as it's so beautiful and inspiring. Robert managed to capture the time they lived in in a way that doesn't cater to the stereotypes but immortalises the people and helped to breakdown the boundaries. It's raw, black and white, simple but so so powerful.

Robert Mapplethorpe; the Magic in the Muse exhibition is on at the Bowes Museum till the 24th April and if you're under 25 you can register at get in for free. GO! (and read Just Kids) Also a documentary all about Robert- Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures- is being released on 22nd April and I'm so. bloody. excited, can't wait to see it. Robert was a true artist and a truly interesting, complex man, I can't recommend enough that you take some time to discover him...

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