Florence, Naples

Robert Mapplethorpe

Palazzo delle Cento Finestre

Whether nude or clothed, the body as photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe combines evocations of classicism with animal like sensuality, the marvels of the freakish. The poses are static, blocked; the bodies are bathed in artificial light as though to emphasize their fictive significance, even to guarantee it. This keeps the nudes from becoming morbid. That their sex is exposed matters little, for Mapplethorpe can perceive sex in the same way as a horizon, a landscape, or a still life.

I don’t think Mapplethorpe can be seen as a voyeur. The voyeur is restricted psychologically by impotence and solitude; Mapplethorpe has a dialogue with his subjects—he chooses them, carefully studies their bodies, exposes them through light. He confronts us with a relationship somewhere between love and the curious lucidity of the scientist, for whom sex is one of many subjects for analysis. Sex is a possible

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