Beauty and the devil are the same thing.
A Season in Hell
In 1986 (the same year that he learned he was HIV positive) Mapplethorpe was asked to illustrate Paul Schmidt's new translation of Arthur Rimbaud's A Season in Hell (1837), a prose poem that Schmidt calls a work of "adolescent passion—not the passion of exuberance, but passion as suffering...the record of a failed attempt to create a new identity by creating a new world". The present work is a proof of one of the eight works that appeared in the portfolio and was a gift from Mapplethorpe to his friend Mark Isaacson.
I invented every celebration, every victory, every drama. I tried to invent new flowers, new stars, new flesh, new tongues. I thought I had acquired supernatural powers. Well then! The time has come to bury my imagination and my memories! A fitting end for an artist and teller of tales!
Free from all morality, I who called himself magus and angel, surrender to the earth in search of duty, ready to embrace life's rough road.
—Arthur Rimbaud, A Season in Hell