Whip, 1972



3.70 x 2.80 in

9.4 x 7.1 cm

Unique Work

Comes with certificate of authenticity.Annotated 'PD 963' in pencil in an unknown hand on the verso.


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About The Work

This unique polaroid dates from the period where Mapplethorpe begins to focus on pure photography, abandoning the collages of the first chapter of his career. It is also a foreshadowing of his curiosity and pursuit of New York's S&M scene.

While the subject matter may seem evocative of Mapplethorpe's work, it is worth emphasizing that he doesn't focus on S&M images until the late 1970's.

His process at the beginning of the decade is also different from his mature period. By the mid 70's he transitions to silver gelatin prints and shoots almost exclusively in a controlled studio setting. In this image, the wrinkled bed linens are an important compositional element, just as is the proximity of the lens to the subject.

In this tightly framed image, there is also an ambiguity of what the viewer is seeing. Are we looking at one body or two? Is the arm holding the whip from the same body with the exposed bottom? In later S&M related images Mapplethorpe's lens maintains a consistent distance from the subject. Here the photographer is so close to the body, he is almost a part of the activity.

As the decade progressed, Mapplethorpe commented on his images of sexuality: ‘I don’t like that particular word “shocking”. I’m looking for the unexpected. I’m looking for things I’ve never seen before… I was in a position to take those pictures. I felt an obligation to do them.’

Mapplethorpe material created prior to 1974 is quite rare, as are his early Polaroids. Caviar20 is proud to be offering this evocative and unique print.

About Robert Mapplethorpe

From The Magazine

  • Provenance: Xavier Hufkens Gallery, Brussels With a gallery label bearing information about the work in facsimile affixed to the back of the frame. Very good condition. Detailed condition report by request

  • This work is framed. Frame measurements are 15.00" x 8.00".
  • Ships in 5 to 7 business days from Canada.
  • This work is final sale and not eligible for return.
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