Robert Mapplethorpe

Mapplethorpe was an American photographer who’s work was big from the 60’s to the 80’s until he died in 1989. His work was rather controversial and evolved a lot round nudism, bondage and S&M. His work was only ever black and white photography.
He did a lot of portraits as well as full body shots. He captured some very famous faces in his work.

Images 1-16 are from the official ‘Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation’

His more controversial work included of homoerotism and sometimes rather crude sexual references which make for uncomfortable viewing in some cases. He definitely wanted to push boundaries and cause a stir.

A lot of his photgraphy did involve male nudes nut he did also use women too.

Mapplethorpe worked closely with American singer-song writer Patti Smith. He took a lot of photos of Patti and they also did shoots together with Mapplethorpe in them with her.

Is photographs seem to have a dark side to them that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it the use of black and white which creates this somber and morose quality. I do like it though and its effects benefit the photographs extremely well. Using colour can sometimes take away the emotion of an image, especially if it is meant to be portraying a dark and melancholy theme.

Here are some of his more controversial images. I have tried to keep them quite tame..

Obviously, Mapplethorpe’s art concentrated on the body in a very sexual way. If we compare him to an artist such as Jenny Saville who also focus on the physique of females we see a contrast on either ends of the spectrum. Where most people with interests of S&M for example, would practice this interest in privacy, Mapplethorpe was more than happy to present this activity in a very public way.
It just shows how we as individuals use the body to convey different feelings and opinions in ways which the majority would probably find unnerving and off putting. As I said, Saville and Mapplethorpe are not even on the same wave length, but they both use the body as a way of expressing inner thoughts without having to say them. This is what art is about. It is a form of expression without having to use words.
If I was to view Mapplethorpe’s art work for the first time I would think…This artist likes sex, he likes nudity, especially where males are concerned, he is almost certainly gay and he likes to be talked about.

Is this stereo typing?
I don’t think so. I may be incorrect in my opinions but I think he made it quite clear in his work that these would probably be true facts. But by artists using models for their work they can express their personal interests and desires no matter how dark without having to relinquish themselves.
I think Mapplethorpe did this very well and very cleverly.


Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard is one of my favourite artists. My tutor Richard introduced me to his work and it is the way he uses composition that attracts me the most apart from his hyper realistic work!! His work mainly focuses on the male nude figure and they way he uses composition and positioning of his figures makes them look in motion, even though there is no real physical movement. This is what appeals to me the most about Leonard’s work.

All of the following images have come from Michael Leonard’s official website

These are just some of the incredible sketches on paper which Leonard has created. You can see that the male figures he looks at are of the idealised male figure. They are almost always naked or with just their pants on.

The two sketches of the male hunched over and exposing his back are my favourite of his sketches. The back is one of my favourite parts of the body and his sketches are so relalistic and beautiful. I love the way he captures the motions of everyday life. Getting out of bed…removing items of clothing…it is all very simple but his art work is full of emotion and grace. The images give a sense of fluid motion which is really captivating!
This is the look I would like to achieve as I continue my work which will lead to my final piece of work.

It is obvious to the viewer that Leonard is intrigued and in love with the male physique as he renders them so exquisitely and beautifully.
Here are a selection of his paintings;

This is one of my personal favourites. Even though this is a still image, the way he has painted it and used the space the way he has creates a feeling of movement and that is what makes his work so lifelike and captivating.

Even though he uses males with beautiful physiques, they are still real to life. As with the above painting, the male here is in a position that allows his skin to crease up and the fact that beneath his jeans hides pale white skin where it hasn’t seen the sun. It really is like a photo.

I can see why he chooses to paint the models whilst in motion as it shows off the movement of the muscle and the skin over the muscle and the bones on the body. I like to sketch images where it looks as though the figure is actually moving or doing something. Because it makes things more interesting. I think this is why I have always shied away fro portraiture because I don’t find it nearly as intriguing or exciting as the human body as a whole.

I like the way he uses colour. They aren’t particularly bright but more subtle and very soft. Even reds and blues which would usually be quite apparent don’t take away the core objective of the body which is the main focus for the viewer

I took a statement from Leonard’s website which describes all of his work very well and gives an insight into the way he works;

In portraits I aim for a vivid presence, in nudes a sense of dynamism and animal grace, in still-life a harmonious but charged arrangement. In all my work observed reality is underpinned by abstract values.

Jenny Saville

I am more attracted to artists who are a bit more controversial. Something that is seen as being controversial gives it more of a taboo effect which adds to the appeal immensely. Like Yeo, Saville has a very questionable vision which she portrays in her work.

She looks at the figure like I do but in a totally contrasting way. Whereas I focus on a more idealised figure, Saville looks at the figure in a very raw and unforgiving way.
She paints enormous canvases of naked women primarily. These women are mostly very large and she has them posing in rather uncomfortable looking positions.

I have taken images from Jenny Saville’s official website and also looked at the Saatchi Gallery website whilst doing my artist research:

She paints these women as though they are just large pieces of meat. There is no happiness or joyous feelings when I look at them. I feel uncomfortable and unhappy. I find them grotesque and in a way unnessary. I suppose it is a perverse curiosity that makes you want to look and the question of, Why?

Why does she paint these women in such a way? Does she think society looks at these women in this way? Is this how she feels within herself?
Why does she present the human flesh in such a way that makes it look gross?

I don’t believe she is glorifying obesity anymore than Yeo is glorifying porn, but they are definitely trying to express something.

I found a statement from an interview back in 2014 about her reasoning for painting such a shocking portrayal of human flesh. And actually it is a very simple and refreshing statement;
I paint flesh because I’m human. If you work in oil, as I do, it comes naturally. Flesh is just the most beautiful thing to paint. I like the down and dirty side of things. I don’t like things to be too polished. We’ve got fashion magazines for that.

Saville is right…magazines present perfection, or what we as a society see as perfection thanks to the media. So she wants to look at the more gritty side of things, the side we don’t particularly want to see, or at least don’t want to admit we would rather not see.
Sometimes she paints several figures together and the women sometimes look as though their bodies have been molded into one almost.
I think what makes these paintings even more shocking is size of the canvases they are done on. But yet she still manages to give the effect these large women can barely fit within the dimensions of the canvas she paints on.

The folds of skin and the way she has them scrunching up handfuls of fatty flesh is quite disturbing. The women are often pressed awkwardly against a clear surface with their face and body in uncomfortable looking positions.

I find her work more interesting than anything else. Because initially it is hard to understand why she paints what she does. I don’t enjoy looking at her work and I think to see them in real life on the scale which they are painted would be even more shocking and spectacular.

Jonathon Yeo

One of my tutors Steve introduced me to an artist called Jonathon Yeo. My painting of Arnold Schwarzenegger reminded him of one that Yeo had done.

Yeo is a London born, self taught artist. He uses collage on a lot of his work and this is what caught the public’s attention. He primarily does portraits of well known people like celebrities, public figures, royalty, etc. He also cobines collage and paint, but it is mostly one or the other.

(Self Portrait of Jonathan Yeo)

What makes him stand out and unusually controversial is that he uses images of porn when doing his collages. If you were to view his work without knowing this you may never know that this was the case. They look amazing and until you look properly then you may start to notice the graphic images which actually make the pieces of art.
The work which got people talking and probably his most famous is a portrait of then president George Bush.

The images used are all from Jonathon Yeo’s official website

There is no denying that this is George Bush. And it is quite unbelievable that you can create something that looks exactly like someone out of pieces of paper. And unless you spend time looking closely you wouldn’t notice the controversial materiel used to make up the face.

Now, it seems more fitting to uses pornography to create a portrait of Playboy owner Hugh Hefner, but why George Bush??

I tried to find out why he uses porn and what he feels he is trying to express by doing so.
With regards to his portrait of President Bush, I found his following statement very interesting;

I felt this would be a fitting comment on the breathtaking hypocrisy of Bush and the extreme right in America. These people have no moral objections to sending people to die in unnecessary wars, or pursuing environmental policies that will cause chaos for our kids, yet they get upset about photos of people having sex.

I totally agree. People are so easily offended and shy away from speaking about sex and are opposed to seeing it on our televisions and in magazines yet the amount of violence that you see everyday being presented in movies and television and all over You Tube and on social networking sites seems to be more acceptable.
I think it is the embarrassment of the naked body being exposed. We seem to have a an old way of thinking sometimes when it comes to sex and the body and people seem to be apposed to it. So i completely agree with what Yeo said and his defense almost and justifications to why he did it.
His website is fantastic and his artwork even more so. I found this statement on his website and it really does explain his reasoning behind the pornography use in his work;

Pornography is largely consumed privately, so sticking it in a very public art space is guaranteed to create reactions. How porn represents the sexual body is often very different from erotic art. These photographs are made purely as a sexual aid. They play with aggression and submission. They are inextricably linked with money, objectification and power. The pretense of voyeurism is vital to keep up their sense of arousal. The rise of digital culture and the Internet in the past decade has hugely influenced how we look at porn. In the West, we are bombarded with sexual images and pornographic spam. The body has become something impersonal and publicly consumed.

I think this is a brilliant statement. And it is so true about the use of the internet and how your just a click away from porn. I think some of us are so shocked by what we see whilst others are not shocked by it at all.

He does not always uses collage for his art.

This portrait of Prince Phillip is remarkable. When you look it could almost have been done using collage as the colours he has used are in blocks almost. The contrast in the colours is what make this piece so effective. The colours have not been blnded much and it creates a really good effect.

The portrait of Dennis Hopper is equally as brilliant as the one of Prince Phillip, however is technique is different again. This piece is very photo realistic and it is so because he  has blended the colours more to create a more realistic tone in the skin.

His technique is fantastic. The way he has captured the emotion of smiling Nicole Kidman and how photo realistic the artwork is.

The following was statement was made by Yeo;

 If you paint a portrait and it’s massively flattering, the artist is going to look as if they are not doing their job properly – and the subject is going to look like they are on a vanity trip. If you are after a truth from a portrait, you want it to do something a photo can’t. A painting has to have a sense of time passing in it. A photo captures a moment. A painting can’t compete with that. At the same time, a photo can’t compete with the assimilation of information that a painter does.

I have never been into portraiture but since seeing Yeo’s work it has definitely inspired me to experiment and try it.
I personally enjoy sketching and painting the figure as a whole as I think you have to be very special to be able to do a portrait and capture the emotions of that person in the image you have created. I will definitely experiment whilst I am preparing for my Final piece and use the techniques I have developed and also experiment with different mediums and media to create and achieve different effects

The following websites have also assisted my artist research:


Photography and Sketchbook Work

My friend Rhea who is also doing the FAD course, was very happy yo help me and let me photograph her. I felt this time it was important to use reference materiel that I had done myself. SO I will try and get as much primary research that I have done myself as I can and hopefully find some ore willing people to take photos of.

I was able to use a collage camera and the room used for photographing.

Below are just a selection of the photos of Rhea which I put into my sketch book.



I was able to get Rhea to pose in different positions that would enable me to them sketch them or paint them. And using the pictures I arranged them so there was motion through the images without the actually moving and I think this is what I want to create through my sketches and then finally for my Final piece.



Using the sketches fro my book and the images of Rhea I will create some paintings to help me with my ideas for the final part of Unit 7.


When I had almost completed my self portrait, I didn’t just want to leave it is a pencil sketch. I was just starting to shade in the parts of my hair when I thought about trying collage. I was inspired mostly by the Artist Jonathon Yeo who’s work is mainly made from collage and paint and he primarily focuses his attention on portraiture.

I thought the contrast between the fine detail of the portrait of my face and the collage which can give a rather rough finish would look really interesting together.

col1 Ime

I started with my hair which does look particularly dark in the photo which I drew from. So I used very dark colours and black to achieve this. I used news papers and magazines and I wasn’t particularly neat when I tore off pieces to use. I didn’t want it to look too neat because I think that collage can look more effective when it is not too tidy. And with it supposed to being my hair I thought this was the best way to achieve that look.

I started on the colours of my cardigan in the middle of doing the dark of my hair so that it was too much of a tedious exercise. And in fact it was quite enjoyable and therapeutic and not boring at all.

I didnt mind that the colours didnt match exactly, but you can see from looking at both the photo and the collage they match enough that the viewer knows what the colours represent.

collafinal collage

I also carried on working into the sketch of my face as I went to try and improve it as much as I could and create the likeness as much as I could.

I am really pleased with the outcome and really enjoyed using collage as the main medium for this particular piece of work. It was not planned out at all but I think that it has worked out really well.

Richard Cross was really impressed with my collage work and suggest I try something else.

So he photocopied what I had already done and suggested that this time i work into my face using collage. I really liked this idea and because I had enjoyed doing the collage I was looking forward to doing this even though I knew it would be quite challenging.


This was the photocopy of the collage with the sketch of my face before I had got to work on continuing with the collage.

Because this was a much more intricate task I was careful about the colours I used and I decided that instead of tearing the pieces I would cut them using scissors into more manageable pieces.

I used hair magazines as it was mainly faces on the pages and it was easier to match the skin tones that I needed.


I started on the outside first and focused on the darker and shaded areas of my skin first. ALso by using scissors and not just tearing pieces I was able to get the shapes I need for the definition in the face.


It was fiddly work, especially the areas like eyebrows and the eyes. I found the mouth very hard to do as I needed very small pieces for right in the corners. And I really did want it as accurate as possible as the detail would be so much better and look more like the photo.


To make the image resemble the photo even more so, I made sure the colours used to do my face were actually from the same area of the face from the magazines. So the skin tones are from the faces in the magazines, my pupils are actually different colours of blue and green pupils from the faces in the magazines to match more accurately to mine. My lips are made up of lips from the magazines models and so on. This way it would look more realistic and I was able to get more accurate colours that ake up the different parts of my face.



Here are some close up so it is more clear as to how the colours I used made up the overall effect of using the collage.


This is my portrait finished in collage. I think it looks really effective against the black and white background of the other part of the collage. This way I can also keep my self portrait as it is whilst using other forms of medium to progress and improve skills and develop new ones.

Working over the top of an existing image helped immensely. I feel if I had tried straight away to do a collage of my face from scratch the result would not have been as effective and realistic as this one. I will continue to use collage and hopefully improve using this technique. Initially I thought collage would be tedious and repetitive work but surprisingly it is an enjoyable task and the end result is worth the time consuming work that comes with it.