The Easel

How Robert Mapplethorpe went from America’s pariah to America’s sweetheart

Robert Mapplethorpe’s reputation is on the rise. After his death in 1989, his work was denigrated as part of the culture war between liberals and conservatives. But generational change has blunted the conservative cause and allowed a new appreciation his work. “The animus directed toward Mapplethorpe’s art … was partly simple scapegoating [reflecting] a deep vein of homophobia running through American life.”