By
Ariana Díaz Celma

Plants and nudes were two themes American photographer and artist Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) was obsessed about. In fact, they played a relevant role in his whole body of work. Mapplethorpe took photos with an extraordinary dedication from 1973 until his death in 1989, unique images that erotized plants and flowers—beautiful, decadent, dark and sexy.

Phaidon brought Mapplethrop’s photos together in Mapplethorpe Flora: The CompleteFlowers, a book of flowers and plants using a range of photographic processes — from Polaroids to dye-transfer color works. In carefully constructed compositions, he captured roses, orchids, snapdragons, daisies, tulips and other species — both common and rare — and forever transformed the way we perceive a classic and familiar subject.

The images also feature an unusual collection of Swedish porcelain and Murano crystal bases, as well as his collection of US Arts and Crafts ceramics

Mapplethorpe Flora: The Complete Flowers was conceived in close collaboration with the Mapplethorpe Foundation and features an essay by New York-based art director Dimitri Levas, a close friend with Mapplethorpe. Levas tells about his visit to the local market to buy flowers and arrange them for Mapplethorpe. An intro by Herbert Muschamp (1947-2007), a former architecture critic for The New York Times, focuses on New York in the 70s and on the importance of flowers in the history of art.

The publication of the book coincides with the launch, on 4 April, of the documentary Mapplethorpe: Look at Pictures (HBO Documentary Films) and a retrospective of his work simultaneously at Getty and LACMA in Los Angeles from March to Juley 2016. The exhibit will travel to Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Gallery of New South Wales de Sídney, Australia.