As he said himself “The one thing people fear the most is the penis — the black man’s penis.” Robert Mapplethorpe’s Controversial ‘Man in Polyester Suit’ Photo Sells for $478,000. The image was part of Mapplethorpe’s “X Portfolio” series, which North Carolina senator Jesse Helms attacked in 1989 for its graphic depictions of same-sex relationships and bondage. The Southern politician was offended that the racy photograph had originally received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) was known for his blunt and unabashedly honest photographs. Highly stylized black and white photos of male and female nudes, the S&M scene, self-portraiture, celebrity portraits, flowers and statuary were among his most common subjects.

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