24th April 2009 at 01:00

An exhibition of black-and-white images by an American photographer who caused controversy with his pictures of male nudes and New York's sadomasochistic underworld, goes on show from tomorrow at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery.

Aimed particularly at a young adult audience (16-24 years), the show of more than 60 photographs by the late Robert Mapplethorpe, who died in 1989 at the age of 43, is part of a series of exhibitions of world-class modern art touring Scotland over the next six months under the "Artist Rooms" banner.

Although notorious for his pictures of sexually-explicit gay imagery, the photographs on show in Inverness focus on Mapplethorpe's more conventional work, particularly portraits of celebrities such as Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop and Susan Sarandon. Also included in the show, which runs until June 27, are fine photographs of flowers, among them his favourite orchids and lilies, as well as classical nude studies and a self-portrait taken shortly before his death.

Mapplethorpe has been praised for his "understanding of form and light"; his "meticulous compositions creating truly beautiful images that revel in the sensual quality of nature and the human body". Visitors to the Inverness show will be able to make up their own minds.

Although the controversial artist used photographic techniques that were certainly innovative 20 or more years ago, it may be that today's digital cameras have caught up with him. And what will a younger audience make of the portraits of people who were well known in the 1970s and '80s but are now either dead or no longer famous?


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