Milan/Robert Mapplethorpe

On a recent trip to Milan I was lucky enough to visit the Cimitero Monumentale di Milano, quite literally a Cemetery of monumental proportions!

I have always had an obsession with Cemeteries, as Brandon Lee’s character in The Crow says that they are ‘the safest place in the world to be’ due to all the people being dead. And I do find something quite calming about being in a cemetery. This was particularly true when we visited this one in Milan, as we only saw 4 other people whilst we were there, 3 of which were praying at an extravagant family tomb.

To be honest there weren’t any tombs of gravestones that weren’t extravagant, with possibly the most extreme grave having a life size sculpture of The Last Supper atop it.

Below are a few images, more on my flickr account on the right.

Another great day in Milan was spent at the Robert Mapplethorpe Gallery, where the exhibition Perfection in Form was on.

The subject matter immediately caught my attention with slick, muscular male forms and then by the images of Lisa Lyon, a pioneer of female bodybuilding. The thing that struck me about her form was that she was very feminine looking whilst also being very muscular.

Mapplethorpe said of Lisa Lyon ‘I’m looking for the unexpected. I’m looking for things that I have never seen before.’ A feeling that I also got when looking at these images.

The Gallery label went on to say:

Unexpected describes the figure of Lisa Lyon, one of the first women bodybuilders and champion weightlifter. Mappletorpe met her in 1980 and over the next few years he worked with her on a series of portraits and figure studies that led to the publication of the book Lady Lisa Lyon in 1983. These images recall the work of Michelangelo, his vigorous backs and those feminine bodies endowed with handsome masculine musculature. (What a wonderful description!) The physicality of Lisa Lyon is profoundly binary; she embodies both masculine and feminine, force and fragility, which gives the photographer the opportunity to visually subvert our stereotypes.

‘I’m looking for perfection of form. I do it with portraits. I do it with cocks. I do it with flowers. It’s no different from one subject to the next. I am trying to capture what could be a sculpture.’ Robert Mapplethorpe

I think that when I die, I want a life size sculpture of Lisa Lyon on my grave!

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