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Lisa Lyon

A work made of gelatin silver print.

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  • A work made of gelatin silver print.




Robert Mapplethorpe
American, 1946–1989

About this artwork

Robert Mapplethorpe produced a body of work ranging from sensual floral still lifes and celebrity portraiture to explicit images of sadomasochism. Yet even his erotic male nudes evoke a classical aesthetic, balancing contemporaneity against timeless form. In 1980 Mapplethorpe met Lisa Lyon, who won the first World Women’s Bodybuilding Championship. Attracted to her muscular physique, which reminded him of Michelangelo’s rendering of the female figure, Mapplethorpe began a collaboration with her that culminated in the 1983 book Lady, Lisa Lyon. Depicting Lyon in nude, full-body portraits as well as a variety of character roles—society woman, dominatrix, mystic—this series celebrates ideals of female beauty from Antiquity and the Renaissance while simultaneously challenging stereotypical femininity today. Here, the framing of one flexed arm and a single breast suggests a double allegory of strength and sensuality.


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Photography and Media


Robert Mapplethorpe


Lisa Lyon


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1981


Gelatin silver print


1 of 10


Inscribed recto, lower left, below image, in black ink: "1/10"; signed recto, lower right, below image, in black ink: "Robert Mapplethorpe"; verso unchecked


Image: 38.5 × 38.7 cm (15 3/16 × 15 1/4 in.); Paper: 50.7 × 40.5 cm (20 × 16 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Susan and Christopher Wilmarth

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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