In 1971 Robert Mapplethorpe took a trip to Europe, where he met some of the most influential names in Fashion.
Famous for documenting the New York underworld of erotica, sadomasochism and homosexuality throughout the 1970s and 80s – the photographer carved his name and iconic style into popular culture. He created images that are subversive, yet balanced and superbly precise – strong compositional elements are present in his work – whether it’s a throbbing member or an elegant pair of hands, the name Mapplethorpe has become synonymous with perfection and controversy.
In this photograph – taken for Italian Vogue in 1984 – beauty and sensuality unite. Mapplethorpe uses geometric elements, symmetry and reflected light to construct an unusually charged narrative. Balanced and measured – the models arms echo the handrails and she glides seamlessly into the water.
She stands out against the mesmerising backdrop and her stoic expression compliments the rigid structure of the photograph. Works like this one – glamorous, refined and subtly erotic – are integral in underlining Mapplethorpe’s role in translating fashion into visual art.
Robert Mapplethorpe, Italian Vogue, 1984, Silver Gelatin Print © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by Permission, Courtesy The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, New York and Alison Jacques Gallery, London
– Harris Hill