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Robert Mapplethorpe Silver Gelatin Print "Jack Walls," 1983

Item Details

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946 – 1989)
Jack Walls, 1983
Signed and stamped to the verso
Artist proof numbered 1/2
Titled, dated, and dedicated “To Jack” to the verso

Gift from Jack Walls
Gift from Robert Mapplethorpe

Proceeds will benefit The Miami Foundation in Florida.

An important silver-gelatin photograph by renowned photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. This 1983 photograph features a portrait of artist and cultural activist Jack Walls. Walls is a painter, poet, writer and performer who lived with Mapplethorpe and was in a relationship with him until Mapplethorpe’s untimely death in 1989. Walls was one of Mapplethorpe’s frequent subjects and appeared in his formal portraits and nude figural images, including his renowned Black Book (1986).

The photograph captures the back of Walls’ head, which was an approach Mapplethorpe took on several of his portrait subjects in the 1980s. Demonstrated in this piece, Mapplethorpe was interested in presenting his subjects with the greatest amount of perfection he could achieve, with a focus on symmetry, structure, and harmony. As a true formalist, Mapplethorpe features the pure formal qualities of his subject, with an attentive emphasis on texture, shape, lighting and straight forward perspective.

This photograph was gifted and dedicated from Mapplethorpe to Jack Walls, who then gifted it to a friend. In the spirit of Jack Walls’ advocacy for cultural activism, proceeds from the auction will benefit The Miami Foundation, a philanthropic organization located in Florida.

Robert Mapplethorpe was a photographer known for his large-scale, black and white photographs. Mapplethorpe is most recognized for his floral still lifes, celebrity portraits, and male and female nudes. The artist received his formal education in graphic arts from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn but ultimately dropped out before finishing his degree. Controversy followed his works, which bluntly exposed viewers to BSDM and homoeroticism with a tender treatment of the subject matter. 1989 saw the launch of Mapplethorpe’s touring solo exhibition, The Perfect Moment. When the show was hosted by the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1990, the museum faced a lawsuit and obscenity trial. It was the first time in American history that a museum faced criminal charges. Ultimately, the museum was found “not guilty” by a jury. The case raised a national debate on censorship, freedom of expression, and homophobia. Today, Mapplethorpe’s works can be found in a variety of private and public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, and the Getty Museum.


- item examined outside of the frame; scratches to the right and lower sides of the frame; slight scattering of white paint marks to the upper and lower outer edges of the frame.


22.5" W x 23.25" H x 1.5" D

- measures frame; sheet measures 15.75" W x 19.75" H; image measures 15.25" W x 15.25" H.

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