Sado-masochism art at National Gallery to include warnings to parents

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An exhibition of photographs by the late Robert Mapplethorpe at the National Gallery of Scotland will contain a warning to parents that images are of an “explicit nature.”

The gay photographer died of AIDS in 1989 and since his death the value of his work has rocketed.

Mapplethorpe’s photographs range from relatively tame images of nude men and women to extremely explicit examples of sado-masochism.

One example, that we can not reproduce online, ‘Helmut and Brooks ’78’ was described by one on-looker as “James Herriot (the vet turned author of ‘All Creatures Great and Small) checking on an unborn calf.” The image shows one male up to his elbow inside the other man.

Officials at the National Galleries of Scotland say that they have left out some of the photographer’s most shocking images but will include warnings outside the exhibition that some of the work may be unsuitable for younger visitors.

The exhibition opening at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art on 29 July, the first of his work in Edinburgh, includes Mapplethorpe’s famous self-portrait with bull whip.

John Leighton, the director-general of the National Galleries said: “There were a number of images where on balance, we decided not to include.”

Other works included are portraits of the artist Andy Warhole and California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger together with still-lifes and flowers.

Visitors wishing to purchase advanced tickets are shown the following warning: “This show contains works of an explicit nature” before being able to book tickets.

Staff will warn families who purchase tickets on the day that the images may be unsuitable for under 16-year-olds.

In an obituary published by The San Francisco Chronicle following his death, Mapplethorpe was described as: “the one-time bad boy of the contemporary art scene.”

In an interview with the same newspaper two years earlier, he said: “It’s more interesting to be controversial than not, but I didn’t set out to be that way. I like to surprise people.”