IFAS | Freedom Writer | September/October 1990 | mapplethorpe.html

Mapplethorpe on trial

A judge in Cincinnati, Ohio has ruled that the jury in an obscenity trial need only to consider five of the late Robert Mapplethorpe's 175 photographs. The trial will determine whether the Cincinnati museum and its director broke Ohio's strict obscenity l aws.

The ruling by Judge David J. Albanese came as a surprise because a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Miller v. California) ruled that to be obscene a work must be "taken as a whole," and "lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific val ue." The Mapplethorpe exhibit consists of flowers, faces, and nudes, but the judge decided that only five of the 175 photos should be "taken as a whole."

Three of the five photos in question are sexually explicit, and two depict children with their genitals exposed. The charges include pandering obscenity and using minors in nudity-related material.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.