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Robert Mapplethorpe, Self Portrait, 1983. Courtesy of Stefan Röpke.

Robert Mapplethorpe: Self-Portraits

“I want to see the devil in us all,” the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe once said. Though perhaps most celebrated for the subversive portraits he took of his friends and fellow artists, Mapplethorpe was an avid self-portraitist. Many of Mapplethorpe’s self-portraits have a suggestive flare, highlighting his role in the New York art scene, queer community, and BDSM subculture. His self-portraits engage viewers with satirical commentaries—such as when he donned horns to blur the lines between satyr and Satan, reflecting on his Catholic upbringing and later deviances. Whether dressing in drag, wielding daggers or sporting a bullwhip tail, Mapplethorpe’s self-portraits triumphantly showcase his uncensored and provocative artistry.

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