Self Portrait 1980 Robert Mapplethorpe 1946-1989 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 Self Portrait 1980 Robert Mapplethorpe 1946-1989 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008

The photograph in question, portrays the torso and legs of a black man with the crotch to the suit open, exposing his penis. It was exhibited at Cincinnati's Contemporary Arts Center in 1990, which lead to director of the center Dennis Barrie and photographer Mapplethorpe to being charged with obescenity. The landmark case was the first ever trial an art museum had faced for the content on display at the center.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Man in a Polyester Suit Image via Sotheby's Robert Mapplethorpe, Man in a Polyester Suit
Image via Sotheby's

Barrie was not sentenced to jail and the curatorial team were also acquitted. In a statement outside of the courtroom, Barrie announced: "This was a major battle for art and for creativity, for the continuance of creativity in this country."

"Mapplethorpe was an important artist. It was a beautiful show. It should never have been in court."

The work which once raised such controversy has an estimate of $250 000-350 000 and has come from a collection of a collector based in Amsterdam, where it has been in their possession for more than 20 years. The first time the work hit the saleroom was in 1992, where it had a final price of $9 900 against a presale estimate of $3 000-5 000.

See the Mapplethorpe's work on Barnebys here.

Comments