Robert Mapplethorpe, ‘Self-Portrait’, circa 1971, Sotheby's

Robert Mapplethorpe: Objects of Desire, Important Works from the Collection of David Croland

Image 2 7/8 by 3 3/4 in. (7.3 by 9.5 cm.)
Object 3 1/2 by 5 1/2 in. (8.9 by 14 cm.)

From the Catalogue:
Throughout his career, Mapplethorpe possessed a profound understanding of three-dimensional design, which he applied not only to the creation of his unique mixed media objects but also to amplify the physical presence of his photographs. Mapplethorpe's affinity for the sculptural led him to create a number of wall pieces, including the object offered here. For this photograph — an intimate exchange from artist to lover — Mapplethorpe created a frame out of a painted Polaroid film case with attached dice-laden string for hanging.
—Courtesy of Sotheby's

Sylvia Wolf, Polaroids: Mapplethorpe (Munich, 2007), p. 37 (this object)

Acquired from the photographer, circa 1971

About Robert Mapplethorpe

In the 1970s, Robert Mapplethorpe and musician, poet, and artist Patti Smith lived together in New York’s infamous Chelsea Hotel where he started shooting Polaroids to use in his collages. Drawn to photography, Mapplethorpe got a Hasselblad medium-format camera and began taking pictures of his friends and acquaintances—artists, musicians, socialites, pornographic film stars, and members of the gay S & M underground. Despite his shocking content, Mapplethorpe was a formalist, interested in composition, color, texture, balance, and, most of all, beauty. In the 1980s, he concentrated on studio photography, specifically nudes, flowers, and formal portraits that are considerably more refined than his earlier work. After Mapplethorpe died from an AIDS-related illness, his work precipitated national controversy when it was included in “The Perfect Moment,” a traveling exhibition funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

American, 1946-1989, Queens, New York, based in New York, New York