We are finally getting Ondi Timoner’s biopic about Robert Mapplethorpe and I have been lucky enough to see and share some of the first photos about it.
Robert Mapplethorpe’s (Matt Smith) portraits, images of calla lilies, and chronicles of New York City’s underground BDSM scene are touchstones of 20th-century photography even now, nearly thirty years after his death from complications of HIV/AIDS in 1989.
“Mapplethorpe” revisits the photographer’s legacy, beginning at the moment just before he takes up residence in the Chelsea Hotel. There, Mapplethorpe begins to build a portfolio of images—and, at the same time, to explore his attraction to men which he had suppressed. But it is the artist’s relentless ambition that threatens to tear apart the relationships he cherishes the most.
“From the early ’70s until his untimely death at age 42, the film explores the intersection of his art and his sexuality, his struggle for mainstream recognition, and, looming above it all, the specter of the emerging AIDS crisis.” The film is “a nuanced portrait of an artist at the height of his craft and of the self-destructive impulses that threaten to undermine it all.”