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Though an undoubtedly fascinating journey into the artistic mind (and the 1970s and 80s New York City), Look at the Pictures never quite breaks free from the lionizing of Mapplethorpe and appeasing people who already defend him.
Look at the Pictures mirrors what Mapplethorpe did with his own life and career: It uses the pictures to tell a version of Robert Mapplethorpe while leaving us with the nagging feeling that there was much more to him than met the eye.
What we learn from the enjoyable punditry of siblings, art-world associates and former lovers is that the gorgeous provocateur was consumed with fame, and that everything and everybody was a means to that end.
Each chapter of Mapplethorpe's biography - his Catholic boyhood in Queens, his renowned romances with Patti Smith and the collector Sam Wagstaff, his devotion to and aestheticizing of s/m - is given the same cursory treatment.