Mapplethorpe, a slayer of all sexual taboos in his life and his art, made many self-portraits with a wide variety of positions and expressions.
The 1988 self-portrait is a swan's song. The cheeks are already hollow and the temples are going gray. Robert holds a walking cane that reinforces the message of his premature aging. The pommel is a small skull positioned in the same direction as the wide open eyes of the artist. The shot is focused on the fist and the cane : the saddened face in a little blur is ready to sink into nothingness. The body dressed in a black sweater is not visible on the black background.
Platinum prints are expensive but provide the best shades of gray. Since the 1920s the great artists use them for their best black and white images. In 1988 Robert produced three numbered prints and an artist's proof of his new self-portrait in 58 x 48 cm format. The number 3/3 is estimated £ 300K for sale by Christie's in London on October 3, lot 12.
This image is scarce. A silver print from a series of 10 in the same format was sold for £ 58K including premium by Sotheby's on July 8, 2004.
SOLD for £ 550K including premium