Robert Mapplethorpe (1946 – 1989) was one of the most widely known American photographers of the late 20th century. His work focused on large format black and white portraits, nudes, and most controversially, the underground BDSM culture of New York City. His photographs both challenged and adhered to classic aesthetic standards. His compositions were technically and formally masterful, but his subject matters were sexually explicit, and even led to a national debate concerning public funding of contentious art. A year before his death, which was caused by AIDS-related complications, Mapplethorpe helped to found the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, Inc. The organization continues to promote Mapplethorpe’s work and raises money and awareness about HIV and AIDS. For more information, please visit