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20 years ago, Robert Mapplethorpe’s photography exhibition, A Perfect Moment, replete with frankly sexual, highly stylized, unabashedly obscene imagery, caused such a ruckus, the National Endowment for the Arts, which partially funded the show, has never quite recovered its footing.  Little has changed, as evidenced by the outcry against the current show at Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art, in which gay-themed works by Mapplethorpe and others have the locals abuzz. Controversy and revulsion aside, Mapplethorpe, it’s often forgotten, was a great photographer. And it’s pictures like this one–his last self-portrait, taken just months before he died in 1989 at age 42, and poignantly infused with the specter of death–that have staying power long after the headlines fade.

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