This documentary looks at the life and work of Robert Mapplethorpe, a world renowned and controversial photographer, who died of AIDS in 1989. It explores his photography, his relationship to the downtown New York art world, and the gay S&M club scene prevalent in the eighties. His infamously explicit pictures of the gay, leather, New York Underground were considered groundbreaking and made him a cause celebre. Mapplethorpe’s portraits, flowers, erotic subject matter and artistic presentation, elevated the photograph to serious art, worthy of exhibition in galleries and museums.
In this documentary we see a 1983 interview with the youthful and mythic Robert Mapplethorpe. In his downtown loft, he talks about his ideas, inspiration, and his highly charged subject matter depicted in his work. Included are interviews with Jack Walls, Mapplethorpe’s partner; artist Brice Marden; Holly Solomon, his first dealer; his father, Harry Mapplethorpe; and Father Stack, his priest in Floral Park, Long Island. Also commenting are curator Richard Marshall, brother Edward Mapplethorpe, photographer Gilles Larrain, lawyer Michael Ward Stout, artist Louise Bourgeois, and biographer Patricia Morrisroe.