The Black Book.
Photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe.
Schirmer/Mosel, Germany, 2010. 108 pp., 96 duotone illustrations, 11¼x11¼".
A classic, indeed perhaps the best of the Mapplethorpe
books. And for many most certainly the most
typical Mapplethorpe, now available once again
thanks to this re-edition.
The Black Book, first published in 1986, presents 96
formally stringent and highly erotic nudes, all of them
photographs of black men, either as full figures, or
staged as details, as fragments of their bodies.
Stylized as classical statues or provocatively in all
their presence and sensuous radiance. Black-and white
photography was Mapplethorpe s preferred
medium. And his obsessive aesthetics was based on
completely mastering it, as this enabled him to visualize
any number of tonal gradations and penetrate
deep into the very pores of the gleaming black skin.
It is a method that reached a climax in these images.
The Black Book, Mapplethorpe s homage to the black
male body, has always been one of the most important
visual contributions to the discussion on beauty,
sensuality, and sexuality in photography.
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