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Matt Smith is the controversial photographer in trailer for Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe was a notoriously provocative American photographer who prompted controversy due to his images of the naked male body throughout the '70s and '80s. A new biopic from Ondi Timoner (DIG!) puts the focus on Mapplethorpe's art and life and finds Matt Smith starring in the title role. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but much like Mapplethorpe's work, the trailer for the upcoming film looks raw and powerful, and Matt Smith recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly about his role in the film. "Like any artist in many senses he was vilified at the time," Smith told EW. “But that’s because he was pushing the boundaries and the form and the envelope of that he was doing and the time he was in, and often the purpose of art is to do that."

Smith also touched upon what made Mapplethorpe’s work so remarkable and unique, which he admitted was an impossible question to answer. "What makes Michelangelo’s work so unique? I think because he was totally true to himself and clear about the moment. He knew what the moment was when he was taking a photograph, when he was looking through a lens. When he saw it, he knew. That instinctual brilliance, you can’t learn, you can’t teach — it’s either in you or it isn’t," Smith explained. "He had the courage of his convictions. He worked really hard and he never gave in. I think, ultimately, if you do that, if you stick your head above the parapet, you work your ass off, and you never give up, and you have the amount of talent and artistic courage that he does, then hey, eventually, you’re going to be remembered."

The official synopsis for MAPPLETHORPE:

Robert Mapplethorpe is arguably one of the most important artists of the 20th century. Mapplethorpe discovered himself both sexually and artistically in New York City throughout the 70’s and 80’s. The film depicts Mapplethorpe’s life from moments before he and Patti Smith moved into the famed Chelsea hotel, home to a world of bohemian chic. Here, he begins photographing its inhabitants and his new found circle of friends including artists and musicians, socialites, film stars, and members of the S&M underground. Mapplethorpe’s work displayed eroticism in a way that had never been examined nor displayed before to the public. Exploring the intersection of his art, his sexuality and his struggle for mainstream recognition, MAPPLETHORPE offers a nuanced portrait of an artist at the height of his craft and of the self-destructive impulses that threaten to undermine it all.

MAPPLETHORPE will hit theaters on March 1, 2019.

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