Robert Mapplethorpe
[Photographer, b. 1946, Floral Park, Long Island, d. 1989, Boston, Massachusetts.]

 I don’t think that there’s that much difference between a photograph of a fist up someone’s ass and a photograph of carnations in a bowl. 
 I think that it was a great advantage to go into photography not knowing much about it. Not thinking. I think one of the problems with many photographers today is that they never see for themselves, but just like everybody else... 
 When I have sex with someone I forget who I am. For a minute I even forget I’m human. It’s the same thing when I’m behind a camera. I forget I exist. 
 I did a picture of a guy with his finger up his cock. I think that for what it is, it’s a perfect picture, because the hand gestures are beautiful. I know most people couldn’t see the hand gestures, but compositionally I think it works. I think the hand gesture is beautiful. 
 I am obsessed with beauty. I want everything to be perfect, and of course it isn’t. And that’s a tough place to be because you’re never satisfied. 
 My work is about seeing—seeing things like they haven’t been seen before. 
 A cock is more problematic [than flowers] when you’re photographing, especially if you want it erect. You can’t jiggle the lights as much, and it’s hard to refine the photograph as much as you’d like... 
 My whole point is to transcend the subject… go beyond the subject somehow, so that the composition, the lighting, all around, reaches a certain point of perfection. 
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