HBO Releases Intriguing Trailer for New Robert Mapplethorpe Documentary

"Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures," airs April 4.

Robert Mapplethorpe.Photo: Courtesy of YouTube.

Still of Robert Mapplethorpe in “Look at the Pictures.”
Image: Courtesy of YouTube.

“I always was fascinated with the idea of taking sexuality and bringing it to a level that it hadn’t been to before.”

These are the first words we hear from Robert Mapplethorpe in the newly-released trailer for HBO’s documentary about the artist, simply titled “Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures.” The words come unexpectedly, after a string of voices which contextualize the fraught relationship between the artist and the general public during the ’90s culture wars.

“Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures,” which airs April 4, adds to a sudden, and welcome, resurgence of attention toward the artist and his life’s work. Next week, the Paul Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) are holding joint retrospectives of the artist’s work, which will include a viewing of the artist’s legendary X Portfolio, which features an insider’s look at the queer S&M scene. In addition, production on an already-controversial biopic starts this summer.

“I made a great effort to take those pictures,” he tells Gary Indiana in a 1988 interview with BOMB Magazine, “But so did the people in them. They weren’t doing it for money, they believed in what they were doing at that time.”

Given Mapplethorpe’s artistic and political legacy, expectations for the documentary understandably run high. We’ll see the full results April 4.

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