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Mapplethorpe: A Biography Paperback – March 22, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 22, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306807661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306807664
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,067,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The late photographer-provocateur, who died from AIDS-related illness in 1989, chose Morrisroe, a frequent contributor to New York magazine, as his biographer. The result is a deeply sympathetic portrait of one of the most controversial artists of the 20th century. His work offsets with luminous elegance and compositional rigor its sometimes shocking content: not only absurdly lush blossoms and haughty socialites but also male nudes and explicit sadomasochistic scenes that reflected his own obsessive forays into the Manhattan underworld. The book explores his rise in the vital art world of 1970s Manhattan as well as his bond with rocker Patti Smith, whom Dali described as "a Gothic crow"; his sometimes loving, sometimes mutually exploitative relationship with his lover and patron, Sam Wagstaff; and the moving coincidence of his greatest critical successes occurring with the insidious and slow depredations of his illness. Although one sometimes longs for the nuanced appreciation of his work that an art historian would have offered, Morrisroe admirably balances frankness with sympathy in this memorable book. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC and QPB selections.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-89) gained his greatest fame when a retrospective of his works led to obscenity charges against Cincinnati's Contemporary Arts Center. But even while he defied the art world with graphic photographs revealing his deepest sexual fantasies, Mapplethorpe was acclaimed for his celebrity portraits and flower images. Six months before his death from AIDS, the highly controversial photographer selected Morrisroe, a feature writer for New York and the New York Times, among other publications, to document his life. Whereas Jack Fritscher's candid memoir, Mapplethorpe: Assault with a Deadly Camera (LJ 10/1/94), is largely drawn from personal reminiscence and is more narrowly focused, Morrisroe's compelling work is based on interviews with Mapplethorpe himself as well as hundreds of family members, lovers, and colleagues. Morrisroe provides intimate, often painful, details of his rigid Catholic upbringing, the sexual obsessions that drove him to the the gay S-M scene, and his intense relationships with rock singer Patti Smith and aristocratic lover Sam Wagstaff. Given the continuing prominence of arts funding and censorship issues, this definitive biography is strongly recommended for most collections.
-?Joan Levin, MLS, Chicago
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

I revisited his work after reading much of it, and I'm glad I did.
Douglas Dick
I particularly loved her inclusion of excerpts of from the contemporaneous critics of Mapplethorpe's work.
Jane
Nothing like a little irony, but it seems questionable that that was the intent.
paul richardson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
Although Robert Mapplethorpe's artistic creations are undeniably controversial, his life story, as told by Patricia Morrisroe, makes for absolutely fascinating reading. I had more than once come across references to Mapplethorpe's work in the various gay fictions I'd been reading; and being totally unfamiliar with him (except for vague name recognition), I decided to find out more about him. Interestingly enough, both towards the latter half of his life and in the months following his death there were many events related in the book that I could recall having heard about in the news, but didn't make the connection with Mapplethorpe until this book. I think my mouth was agape throughout most of the time spent reading it; even now, recalling the descriptions of some of his photos and the detailed recounting of his lifestyle, I just sit and shake my head in amazement and probably shock. Robert Mapplethorpe, at his mother's request, received the last rites before he died. Being raised Catholic, I know what that should mean; but quite frankly, if there is indeed a heaven and a hell, I'm not sure in which place Robert Mapplethorpe is currently residing. A very informative book, and very, very absorbing reading!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robin S. on February 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
Having just read Patti Smith's book on her life with Robert Mapplethorpe, I decided to re-visit Morrisroe's biography. I enjoyed it even more the second time around. It's honest without being sensational and she treats his life in a sensitive, non-judgmental way. Even though I already knew the ending, the book is so well-written that I couldn't put it down.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is excellent and very readable.I imagine there is not much left to say about Roberts life.The research is thorough but the resulting book is vivid ,full of life and not at all dull.Everybody in the N.Y. art scene seems to make an appearance-Patti Smith is obviously also a big and constant background presence in the tale.Even if you don't rate Roberts work this book will be well worth reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chitown Booklover on March 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I couldn't put this book down. One of the best biographies of an artist I have ever read. Morrisroe has choreographed a wonderfully balanced dance between the artist and his art. This is also a wonderful account of gay culture in the 70s and 80s of the Village, as well as an honest look at the toll of AIDS on the artworld.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By paul richardson on September 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While the book itself is a compelling read, this particular edition is a disgrace. The included photographs are so muddy and poorly rendered that the reader can barely discern what the subject is - they look like they were reproduced on a toy printing press from the nineteen fifties. On top of that, the paper is of the cheapest quality, and the text is visually distorted in areas. Again, this book is a disgrace - particularly in consideration of the fact that its subject was a visual artist. Nothing like a little irony, but it seems questionable that that was the intent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tamara Moore on June 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Of all the Mapplethorpe books out there, Morrisroe's well-researched and highly detailed biography is the one you want to pick up. She delves into everything and everyone with a connection to his life, aesthetics, and the various scenes of which he was a part. Completely fascinating.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Heather on October 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is the best biography I have ever read. Morrisroe's research is thorough and her writing is not dull or pretentious. The story flows right along, and there is no sense of judgement passed on Robert for the way he lived his life, only the belief that his art both changed the standing of photography as art and challenged his critics and would-be censors. This is a marvellous celebration of an innovative artist's life. If I could give it more than 5 stars, I would.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 7, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This book was done so well, it kept my interest into the the personal side of Mapplethorpe. The book is in no way gross or tawdry. It reflects a realistic depiction of his relationships. You can actually see yourself growing older with him as the story progresses
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