Frank Diaz

1979
Silver Gelatin Photograph
19.75
x
15.9
in

Signed, dated and numbered ‘3/10’ in pencil (margin); signed and dated in ink in photographer’s copyright credit stamp, and titled, dated, numbered ‘3/10’, ‘222’ in ink (flush mount, verso)


The black and white portrait of Frank Diaz considered “the hottest Puerto Rican in New York,” eventually became a fixture of the 70’s gay disco scene. This photograph was initially displayed in NYC with a mirror directly to its right, turning every viewer into a potential victim of the drawn dagger, an example of Mapplethorpe’s subtle transgression and sensible, neoclassical harmony. The photograph’s palette references the elegant tones and shadows from the marble statues of classical antiquity. There is an allusion to religious imagery in this picture, in the manner of St. Michael, the archangel casting away demons, with the clutch of the dagger and winged eagle tattoo on the sitter’s forearm creating a tangible link. As with much of his work, Mapplethorpe bridges ancient aesthetics into the modern world.