Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946–1989) earned a B.F.A. at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Initially he worked in mixed media, including found photography, to create collages. In the early 1970s he began to experiment with Polaroid photography, and in 1973, Mapplethorpe had his first exhibition of Polaroids at the Light Gallery in New York City. Mapplethorpe became known for his ability to capture distinct personalities ranging from celebrities to artists and members of New York’s underground subcultures. By the early 1980s, Mapplethorpe’s work turned toward more formal portraiture and still life, with an emphasis on flowers. In 1988 Mapplethorpe established the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports medical research on AIDS and fine-art photography at the institutional level. Shortly thereafter, in 1989, Mapplethorpe died of AIDS.