Robert Mapplethorpe did it before your high school BF
( A self portrait of Robert Mapplethorpe, 1980 )
Long before you had sent or even received your first dick pic, there was an entire sector of the art world that had perfected it down to a science.
Let me explain.
March 9 marks the 32nd anniversary of the death of Robert Mapplethorpe, renowned photographer and LGBTQ+ activist. Mapplethorpe became immortalized by his signature black and white photography. But that’s not all he was known for. This guy took nudes to a whole new freaking level.
Within his lifetime, Mapplethorpe captured the curves of Grace Jones and the muscled anatomy of Arnold Schwarzenegger. These weren’t exactly nudes, but his celeb interactions in the ‘70s helped him progress in his field. It wasn’t until he started producing more controversial work that his fame was solidified.
And when I say controversial, I am not exaggerating in any sense of the word.
Mapplethorpe’s subjects ranged anywhere from delicate flowers to anal-fisting., Quite the range, I know. This range, however, coupled with the initial shock value of his photography, is what gained him the title of one of the most influential photographers of the 21st century.
One of the most identifiable characteristics of Mapplethorpe’s work was his incorporation of phallic symbols throughout his photography. (So, yes. It is possible to take a pretty dick pic.) More plainly put, the guy loved penises. His intent was not to produce some knock-off SeanCody scene, but to emphasize the beauty found within the male specimen. Mapplethorpe’s walk down the thin line between porn and art was what made his work so incredibly controversial.
This celebration of the penis was not meant for people to get off to, in fact, it was actually a ‘fuck you’ to the art critics at the time. It was a blatant protest against the censorship within the art community, most specifically within the queer community. No longer was gay sex this evil concept that needed to be hushed away, Mapplethorpe showed us that gay men are real human beings with beautiful peens, not tokens or aliens.
On March 9th, 1989, Robert Mapplethorpe passed away of AIDS. The tragic loss of such a progressive and brilliant mind shook not only the art world, but also the LGBTQ+ community. His accomplishments brought queer love to the forefront of the art world and humanized a rather controversial subject during the AIDS epidemic.
So, if you're sending your S.O. a ~consensual~ dick pic that you find rather artistic, don’t be afraid to slap a black and white filter on it and call it art. I mean, it’s what Robert would’ve wanted ;)
Kyle Hamilton is an Online Writer for the 'After Dark' portion of Rowdy Magazine. In his free time he enjoys photography, being super gay, and drinking enough cold brew to kill a small child. You can find him at @hamkyl on insta ;)