Photographer Robert Mapplethorpe was the type of artist we rarely see anymore, controversial to the point that, around the time of his death, a major showing of a traveling exhibit of his was canceled due to National Endowment for the Arts-based protests. His art was unabashedly homoerotic, and did he best to show the human body as honestly as possible. He was also an unrepentant scenester, living the life of a real downtown NYC artist. His life was interesting, to say the least. Now, HBO has immortalized it in the form of a documentary, Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures. The first trailer has just been released.
The film, directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, aims to reveal the way Mapplethorpe lived his life through his photographs. An unseen talking head says, “Everything was a means to an end to his career,” possibly commenting on his lifelong relationship with artist and curator Sam Wagstaff. It also seems interested in examining Mapplethorpe’s troubled relationship with his family, which is an area of the artist’s life often glossed over in favor of the more controversial parts of his life.
The film will premiere April 4 on HBO. Watch the trailer below.