Robert Mapplethorpe

Ganymede, 1988

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989), Ganymede, 1988, gelatin silver print, 20 x 24 in. Schwartz Art Collection, Harvard Business School, 2017.3. © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.

In this meditative work, made a year before his death, Robert Mapplethorpe photographs a sculpture of Ganymede, a divine hero from Troy. Ganymede was considered by Homer to be the most beautiful of mortals, and was abducted by the gods to be Zeus’s cupbearer. In this photograph, he attempts to collapse the mediums of photography and sculpture into a single practice. As Mapplethorpe stated, “If I had been born one or two hundred years ago, I might have been a sculptor, but photography is a very quick way to see, to make sculpture.”