Robert Mapplethorpe (November 4, 1946 - March 9, 1989) was an American artist and photographer born in Floral Park, New York City.
His frankly erotic images caused much agitation about the funding of the arts. Many conservative and religious organizations opposing public funding used his images as a means of shocking people.
Most of his photographs he made in studio. His most apparent themes are Portaits of (now) famous people, S&M, mostly male nudity and flowers. His specialty was considering his photography equal to paintings, and so giving them quite exotic framing and printing. He did indeed live in a time when photography was just being accepted as one of real arts.
He was a great networker, never losing a chance to promote his work, and never failing to invite all his acquaintances to his gallery openings.
Robert Mapplethorpe died of AIDS.
Suggested reading: Patricia Morrisroe: Robert Mapplethorpe: A Biography
See also: The erotic male in photography