Indeed. He wanted people to look at his explicit pictures because he wanted infamy. And he certainly found it. HBO's "Robert Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures" gives an indepth look at the man behind the camera, and doesn't shy away from showing us the photographs which many people, art critics included, thought of as "porn." Yet, when Cincinnati took the Contemporary Art Center to court on obscenity charges over 5 photos included in the final tour of 175 photographs (after Robert's death), the jury ruled them "art." It was a great victory for everyone. It's hard to believe it's been a bit over 25 years. And, yet, we still find this type of "free speech" challenged in all artistic endeavors from painting and sculpture to film and theatre, and everything in between. Our own adult blogs still come under attack.
Whatever one may say about the man, he knew how to stir emotions, and controversy
And many photographers since have mimicked his work.