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Influencing Me – Robert Mapplethorpe

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You had to know that eventually I would get around to doing one of these on Robert Mapplethorpe.  His black and white photographs are an inspiration to anyone who loves black and white imagery.  He also worked in colour, but is more known for the black and white images.

Mapplethorpe 1He also photographed a lot of flowers.  Which is the part of his art practice that I have always enjoyed the most.  The flowers were nearly always quite simple specimens.

Mapplethorpe 2He manipulated the flowers to suit the images he wanted.  Just because it was a flower and would look normal in most images, didn’t mean that he had to do the same thing.  He made the flowers work for the image that he wanted to create.

Mapplethorpe 3There is a simplicity in his work, something that I have tried to achieve as well.  He doesn’t let the box that contains the image get cluttered with unnecessary props.

Mapplethorpe 4You get to see the beauty of the flower and what it has to offer.

Mapplethorpe 5When he does use props they are used to help the image in creating lines that work for the flowers he is photographing.

I think for me it is all about the lines, which also works with my architectural images, and when I photograph flowers, I usually look for simple flowers that have beautiful lines and a simple elegance.

Cole 1One of my images, and I think you would have to agree that there is a definite Mapplethorpe influence in it.  The trick, I believe, is finding the right perfect flower.

Detail of Death 3There are those lines again.  I like looking for those.  I have to say that I am attracted to many of the same flowers as Mapplethorpe.  I don’t think I have to do the same images, but it is a good idea to try and imitate when you first start out.  It is a fantastic way of learning.  I know I have said that before, but I still think so.

First comes imitation, then influence, then developing your own style.  Learning to be an artist is an interesting experience.

I know this is just the way he influences me, I am sure other people find he influences them in different ways, if so, then please comment and let other people know as well.  I would enjoy hearing them as well.

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72 Comments Post a comment
  1. These are exquisite and at least as good as any Mapplethorpe. Trying to emulate people like Mapplethorpe (or anyone who we admire and respect) is a great learning experience.

    March 18, 2013
  2. I saw his portrait work at the Getty Center a couple weeks ago.
    Interesting work.

    March 18, 2013
    • Yeah his portraits are interesting, I like his flowers a lot more.

      March 18, 2013
  3. Reblogged this on Camino a la voz del corazón and commented:
    Dejar de existir

    Convertirse en la nada.
    Disfrazarse de una masa negra
    inhabitable, inexistente.
    Tener la capacidad
    de no respirar, de no ver, no hacer,
    de no odiar, amar, o aborrecer.
    Convertirse en la nada,
    la nada de nadie y la de todos,
    la nada que nadie recuerde.
    Perder la capacidad
    de pensar, de sufrir, querer,
    de malgastar, dormir, fingir ser.

    Joel Vargas.
    17/03/13

    March 18, 2013
  4. I won’t lie…I wasn’t familiar with his work but love it and yours! I think you saw the photos I posted yesterday; I took one of a red poppy blowing in the wind. But when I was editing, I decided to make it black and white and bump the contrast and, wow! Became my favorite instantly! Maybe I was a Mapplethorpe fan and didn’t know it ;) Keep it up!

    March 18, 2013
    • You know you will have to go and check out his work in more detail now. He is dead now, but there is a website dedicated to him.

      March 18, 2013
  5. That’s where I’m busy with; flowers!!!
    I love them and at this stage I’m busy with a serie of new flowers i.e. I take several flowers apart in photoshop and of the different elements I make a new one.. Wonderful flower photography of Maplethorpe and you!!!

    March 18, 2013
  6. The shadows and contrast are what strike me. There is so much unseen work here to get that right. That is the artist at work.

    March 18, 2013
  7. Calla lilies were my favorite flower when I was growing up.

    The tulips made me gasp, they are so beautiful.

    Yours is amazing. The concave curve with the lines reminds me of a lock of hair.

    I learned so much from your comments on his art work.

    Thanks!

    March 18, 2013
  8. The controversy around some of his work really overshadowed his gift. I know people who know nothing about art but if I said his name they certainly had an opinion. The fact is he was brilliant.

    March 18, 2013
  9. It’s funny you should post this today, I went to see his photos at the Getty today. I saw the top photo and the flowers in the bowl. along with the Patti Smith portrait used on “Horses.” I like your lilies very much.

    March 18, 2013
    • I am so jealous, we are very limited with what we get to see here. I would love to see some of his work for real.

      March 18, 2013
      • the focus on the top lily was a little soft in the print–I’m so used to seeing digital images, that caught my eye. his lighting is gorgeous. I really love yours though. I’ve been shooting flowers in local gardens and none of the flowers are perfect. Sometimes they are even a little dirty, and it’s hard to avoid clutter. I’d like to try studio shooting someday.

        March 18, 2013
      • You should try it one day Pat, it really isn’t hard and if you are shooting and intending it to be black and white then lighting is easy. If you ever decide to try drop me a line and I will give you some tips.

        March 18, 2013
      • thanks for the encouragement!

        March 20, 2013
  10. Thank you for my introduction to Mr. Mapplethorpe; more learning for me here. Thanks!

    March 18, 2013
  11. Great read about an awesome photographer.

    March 18, 2013
  12. Very seductive… And interestingly so…

    March 18, 2013
  13. Beautiful photographs!!!

    March 18, 2013
  14. Thanks for sharing Mapethorpe’s flower images, Leanne. I used to work for his printers retouching some of his portrait photos and these are new to me.

    March 18, 2013
    • Mapplethorpe would have been surprised, and I always hoped appalled, by some of the retouching we were asked to do…!

      March 18, 2013
    • OMG that is so amazing, must have been wonderful to work on his prints, Did you ever get to meet him?

      March 18, 2013
      • Funny to have worked for months on his very large photographs, beautifully printed and absurdly retouched, and still not meet him, especially in the small town of Manhattan where you can meet anybody! Very reclusive, but a powerful vision!

        March 19, 2013
  15. These are stunning!

    March 18, 2013
  16. Robert, Ansel, Georgia – all great influences, but you do him justice here…

    March 18, 2013
  17. Beautifully executed. Fantastic lighting!

    March 18, 2013
  18. absolutely splendid!! i could learn so much from you!

    March 18, 2013
  19. Beautiful images.

    March 18, 2013
  20. Beautiful dialog between light and shadow, white, black and grey.

    March 18, 2013
  21. Beautiful, the b&w shots are gorgeous.

    March 18, 2013
  22. Admirable work !!!

    March 18, 2013
  23. Gorgeous photos! And yours is of equal quality!

    March 18, 2013
  24. I came across Mapplethorpe when I read Just Kids. Fascinating character and these flowers ( including yours) are gorgeous. You should check out some of Steve Gingold’s flower work. I bought his exhibition photo of a Painted Trillium last year. Gorgeous. http://www.stephengingoldphoto.com/

    March 18, 2013
  25. Great choice of photographs of Mapplethorpe’s still lifes. Thanks Leanne, good to open up a discussion about influences on our work. I think that it’s also worth looking at Irving Penn’s work, still lifes and portraits. Penn came to mind immediately I saw your post. I think he is acknowledged as influencing Mapplethorpe both in still life work and portraiture, although to me Penn’s still lifes of flowers seem almost botanical in approach, a little like the artist Peirre-Joseph Redoute.

    March 18, 2013
  26. Love the photos, very nicely executed. I am also a huge fan of black and white photography, it can say so much with subtle cues.

    March 18, 2013
  27. Franco #

    Beautiful images, I love the second one, the flower pictured as a lamp. And the one with the tulips in the black bowl for the richness of tonality.
    Your first image I prefer.

    March 18, 2013
  28. Awesome

    March 18, 2013
  29. Beautiful images, Leanne! He would approve!

    March 18, 2013
  30. Love those photos! Thank you for liking my blog post Visit to King Estate Winery: Tour, Tasting, and Romance.

    March 18, 2013
  31. Mapplethorpe has been influential in my feelings of what makes a great photograph. His use of shadows, lines, texture are what I aspire to.

    March 18, 2013
  32. They are all so beautiful so artistic… Fascinated me. Thanks and Love, nia

    March 18, 2013
  33. beautiful images!!

    March 19, 2013
  34. BLACK AND WHITE HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN INSPIRATION TO ME! THANKS FOR SHARING THESE BEAUTIFUL PHOTOGRAPHS TODAY!

    March 19, 2013
  35. ☆ MagicAperture #

    I love Mapplethorpe stuff, especially the nude portraits I have to confess! His work is so pinpoint sharp. He inspires me too!

    March 19, 2013
  36. One name comes to mind: Patti Smith (picture on the cover of ‘Horses’ by Mapplethorpe).

    March 19, 2013
  37. Yes, his work is amazing…as is yours!

    March 19, 2013
  38. Beautiful pictures of nature and architecture – I love all the lines, so much more visible in architecture, but beautifully captured in nature. Thanks for visiting my site as well!

    March 19, 2013
  39. yosport28 #

    I really like the clean lines and contrasting look in these photos. Definitely checking out the website.

    March 19, 2013
  40. Your images never fail to amaze… and stir a sense of depth in imagination..
    nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award http://jaybluepoems.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/the-one-lovely-blog-award/

    March 19, 2013
  41. This whole collection is stupendous and so inspirational. You certainly got the touch.

    March 19, 2013
  42. Adore your take on Mapplethorpe’s flowers – well done. I especially love the one with the calla lily’s upturned petal tip – lovely lines and contrast!!!

    March 19, 2013
  43. So beautiful. I love color but the black and white feels clean and refreshing.

    March 19, 2013
  44. Beautiful series.

    March 19, 2013
  45. Beautiful work Leanne.

    March 19, 2013
  46. Yet another nice one in your continuing series. Keep ‘em coming. D

    March 20, 2013
  47. Absolutely beautiful pictures, Leanne – some of the best I’ve seen from you I think. Gorgeous! And, yes, Mapplethorpe. Excellent images! Adrian

    March 20, 2013
  48. Cynthia #

    “simple elegance” is a great description. Your flowers are beautiful. I really appreciate how you are sharing your influences. This post is inspiring me to revisit Mapplethorpe with fresh eyes.

    March 20, 2013
  49. I love these pictures! Absolutely amazing! I would love for you to check out my blog and hear your feedback!(:

    March 21, 2013
    • I would love to be able to do that, but I get so many requests for the same thing, and unfortunately I just don’t have the time to do it. My own work has got very busy lately, I hardly have time to do my own blog now.

      March 21, 2013
  50. Thanks for this post! I adore Mapplethorpe’s photography. I’ve blogged about him as well: http://artaficionada.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/robert-mapplethorpe/

    March 21, 2013
  51. I think the apparent simplicity is a product of an ability to spot and appreciate form first and then light and texture. At a dinner table, a NY fashion designer described someone as having a beautiful penis, which was both flippant and sincere, and, I suspect, arises (no pun intended) from the same appreciation Mapplethorpe had for form, including male forms and cala lilies which includes a representation of the male form. It all starts with an appreciation for it, which you have demonstrated in your work.

    March 21, 2013
  52. The more “simple” the subject appears – the more complex it is to render.

    March 21, 2013
  53. Modernist photographers can teach a lot of us today about the use of line and form and light, shadow. Mapplethorpe certainly used all of these to great effect in both his still life’s and in his nudes. Great post.

    March 21, 2013
  54. These are quite beautiful and he was a very talented photographer. It is just a shame he had to do some of the portrait work that he did – I found some to be quite offensive.

    March 22, 2013
    • I must admit, I was always more interested in the flowers and have really looked at his other stuff.

      March 22, 2013
  55. I agree the lines are beautiful, but I also really love your light. It accentuates the lines and the depth so nicely.

    March 22, 2013
  56. You learn from others, and you teach others, what better?

    March 24, 2013
  57. These are incredible. Need to investigate his work.

    March 29, 2013

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