American photographer born in New York City, he attended Pratt Institute (1963-70) and soon became noted for his austere black-and-white photographs of flowers, celebrities, and male nudes. During the early 1980s, Mapplethorpe's photographs began a shift toward a phase of refinement of subject and an emphasis on classical formal beauty. He continued to challenge the definition of photography by introducing new techniques and formats to his oeuvre: color Polaroids, photogravure, platinum prints on paper and linen, Cibachromes and dye transfer color prints, as well as his earlier black-and-white gelatin silver prints. In 1987 he established the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to promote photography, support museums that exhibit photography as an art form of the same importance as painting and sculpture, and to fund medical research and finance projects in the fight against AIDS and HIV-related infection. He also established the Foundation's initial philanthropic mandate, targeting the area of his greatest concern: the recognition of photography. The explicit homoeroticism of some of his nudes aroused controversy, though their beauty was widely recognized.