1st Edition

Intimacy, Photography, and Shame 1969–1992

By Harrison Adams Copyright 2025
    206 Pages 18 Color & 53 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This study argues that intimacy requires an overcoming of shame, and each of these artists, in their own way, uses photography to frame moments that can be shameful to some and intimate others, leaving it to the viewer to navigate this affectively perilous terrain.

    From the cancellation of Mapplethorpe’s retrospective The Perfect Moment to the obscenity trial in Cincinnati shortly thereafter, to Hujar’s lesser-known but equally “hardcore” imagery, to Goldin’s gritty depictions of domestic violence and substance abuse, to the accusations of child pornography thrown at Mann’s photographs of her own children, the photographers at the heart of this book have probed the limits of acceptability. But there is more to their work than merely controversy, it’s what causes the controversy that matters. The notion of intimacy is at stake in some of our most important human relationships, and thus a great deal hinges on both achieving and preserving intimacy.

    The book will be of interest to scholars working in art history, photography, and gender studies.

    Introduction: The Avoidance of Shame  1. Robert Mapplethorpe: Toilet Water  2. Peter Hujar: The Naked and the Nude  3. Nan Goldin: Indecent Exposure  4. Sally Mann: A High Wind in Virginia


    Harrison Adams is Assistant Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.