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Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures

If a picture is worth a thousand words than the photographic oeuvre of controversial American artist, Robert Mapplethorpe is sure to serve as history’s most detailed depiction of downtown New York throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s. ‘Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures’ is a chilling documentary honoring the life and career of the late artist, who passed away of AIDS in 1989, which brings together a slew of archival footage attained from the Mapplethorpe foundation, as well as highlights from the over fifty interviews conducted with Robert’s friends, family, ex-lovers and collaborators.

From his early days as a struggling art student living with his muse and companion, musician Patti Smith – one interviewee who is noticeably absent from the film – to inhabiting the Chelsea Hotel, achieving critical acclaim, financial success and becoming somewhat of a gay icon tied to the sexual underground of downtown New York, Mapplethorpe’s beautiful, albeit at times difficult to look at, images are inherently tied to the complicated times in which he lived. While hundreds of thousands of eerily beautiful photographs survive the late artist, ‘Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures’ does a tremendously cohesive job at honoring the highs and lows of Robert Mapplethorpe’s widely influential career.

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