Joe by Robert Mapplethorpe (1978)

The photograph titled “Joe,” created by artist Robert Mapplethorpe in 1978, is a black and white image. In the photograph, an individual is portrayed in a dark setting that adds a dramatic tone to the subject matter. The person is wearing a full-body, black leather outfit that covers everything except the hands and part of the arms. The outfit includes a hood with no visible openings for the eyes or mouth, and it is equipped with what appears to be a chain leash extending from the neck area. The individual is on all fours atop a simple wooden bench, with a backdrop that has a reflective, crinkled texture, possibly a plastic sheet or tarp, that intensifies the play of light and shadow in the composition. The posture, attire, and setting combine to evoke themes of subjugation and power dynamics, which were frequent subjects in Mapplethorpe’s body of work.

Other Photographs from Robert Mapplethorpe

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