born Nov. 4, 1946, New York, N.Y., U.S.
died March 9, 1989, Boston, Mass.
He attended the Pratt Institute (1963–70). By the mid 1970s he was pursuing what were to remain his favourite subjects throughout his career: still lifes, flowers, portraits of friends and celebrities, and homoerotic explorations of the male body. His compositions were generally stark, with his combination of cold studio light and precise focus creating dramatic tonal contrasts. His muscular male models were generally framed against plain backdrops, sometimes engaged in sexual activity or posed with sadomasochistic props such as leather and chains. His clear, unflinching style challenged viewers to confront this imagery. Moreover, the combination of his choice of subject matter with the photographs' formal beauty and grounding in art-historical traditions created what many saw as a tension between pornography and art. A posthumous retrospective exhibition of his work in 1990, funded partly by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), stirred a debate about government subsidies of "obscene" art and provoked Congress to enact restrictions on future NEA grants.