On DVD and Blu-Ray Reviews

Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures – DVD & Blu-Ray Review

Huh. Art. Yeah…

What is it good for?


Art is made to embellish the world we live in or portray in a truly great format. Colourful, interpretative, evoking, and completely stellar, art makes waves inside you and coats the walls of your soul forever. Though art is often mistaken for flowery beauty. Whilst it can be, there is also a darkness too it. Art confronts a seedy part of your soul and echoes the dredge of the world too. The unease can turn folks angry and the artist that perpetuate this work can meet a lot of hullabaloo in their life.

Robert Mapplethorpe caused a stir with his photographs.

Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures revolves around the famed yet controversial artist Robert Mapplethorpe. The photographer, who worked mainly in black and white (and there for the documentary focuses on these general hues) shocked the world with his explicit photos of sadomasochism, male genitalia, and more provocative subjects. Directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, Look at the Pictures tackles his ground-breaking and contentious work with such a candid eye that Mapplethorpe’s art an illicit the same emotions that made him such a pariah throughout the seventies and eighties.

Combined with his artwork, footage with famed girlfriend Patti Smith (alongside a long line of lovers,) and people aware of the artist’s legacy and life. From growing up in the suburbs to causing a stir amongst art fans, Mapplethorpe had lived his live carving a photographic world away from humdrum suburbia and Catholicism. The exploration of Mapplethorpe’s rise into significance and how his photos rippled across the industry is an enticing and greatly embellished in this work.

The biggest problem with Mapplethorpe is that the film never finds an objective angle and it very much lauds the late artist without taking too much time to consider his bad points too. I suppose that’s the fragility of idolisation and something to ruminate on. We spend so much time focusing on the gloriously good parts of the artist, with the inclusion of any bedlam they may have caused, that we forget how to see him

Its always hard to objectively review documentaries so this is a short but sweet affair. Though it teeters in familiar territory with the set-up, and the handling of the subject matter, it’s through Mapplethorpe and his history where the movie becomes interesting. Even if you were a massive fan of his work or still find yourself bristling at his incendiary and exploratory work, you can find a nugget of interest here. The use of his artwork and the intimacy of the film allows the fascinating cinematic pathway to the man behind the controversy yet never fully fleshes Mapplethorpe completely.

Though, perhaps aside from his work, it is certainly the closest we’re going to get.


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