HBO to air first Robert Mapplethorpe documentary featuring his most shocking work

8 December 2015

Robert Mapplethorpe: Self Portrait (1982) © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

HBO has announced a new documentary about Robert Mapplethorpe will debut in April 2016. Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures will be the first feature-length film to look at the provocative life and work of the American artist and photographer, who died of an Aids-related illness in 1989. Famous for his controversial and sexually explicit photographs, which depicted everything from bodybuilders to BDSM, Mapplethorpe is credited with pushing contemporary photography into the realm of fine art.

The documentary will follow his beginnings as a young artist studying at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn to his relationships with a string of influential lovers, including Patti Smith, and all the way up to his untimely death. It will also feature interviews with those who knew and worked with him, such as Debbie Harry of Blondie, Fran Leibowitz and Brooke Shields, as well as his siblings.

Directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbaro, who were given unprecedented access to The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation archive, Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures will also coincide with simultaneous retrospectives at The Getty Museum and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “Even his most shocking and forbidden images are included without blurs, without snickers — in other words, exactly as the artist intended,” the directors say.

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Alexander Hawkins

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