On March 11, 1963 he was born David LaChapelle, one of the ten most important and influential contemporary photographers. In the 80s he was noticed and initiated into a photographic career by Andy Warhol: the King of Pop Art engaged him for a series of covers for her magazine Interviews. Since then he has explored every type of photographic genre, not limiting himself to commissioned photos for the big names in music and for magazines, but creating original shots that take the form of real paintings.
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Fashion and advertising
In the following decade the photographer’s fame exploded and he began to appear in important magazines magazines like Vogue, The Face, Rolling Stones, Details, Vanity Fair And the New York Times Magazine. There are also numerous collaborations with important international brands for the creation of advertising campaigns for brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Iceberg, Schweppes, Nokia, Lavazza, Armani Jeans, Motorola, L’Oréal, Coca-Cola, Diesel, Smirnoff, H&M and Burger King.
LaChapelle portrait painter
Numerous stars from the most disparate fields have been immortalized in the very personal and unmistakable style of LaChapelle: Courtney Love, Pamela Anderson, Amanda Lepore, Angelina Jolie, Benicio del Toro, Madonna, Lana Del Rey, Elizabeth Taylor, Valeria Marini, River Phoenix. The whole list would be endless, but let’s also remember: Drew Barrymore, Leonardo Dicaprio, Uma Thurman, Lindsay Lohan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Eminem, Lady Gaga.
It’s still Marilyn Manson, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Shirley Manson, Travis Scott, Hillary Clinton, David Beckham And Whitney Houston. Particularly the case of the portraits of Michael Jackson: according to some sources it seems that it was not the singer who posed for LaChapelle, but some impersonators.
The video clips
Starting from advertising and the big fashion magazines, the photographer has managed to build a reputation and a career also in cinema and theatre, as well as being a much sought-after producer of music videos. In 2005 he directed the documentary Rizeawarded at Sundance Film Festival. The work, shot in the suburbs of Los Angeles, illustrates the new forms of dance that have exploded in the black ghettos of the city.
He also made the promo of the first season of Desperate Housewives and of Lost for Channel 4, an English television network, and for Abc overseas. In 2019 he signed the manifesto of the 62nd edition of the Festival of Two Worlds Of Spoleto.
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The turning point
The real artistic breakthrough in his career comes in 2006, when visiting the Sistine Chapel decides to leave the world of advertising to devote himself entirely to art. Follows the famous series of biblical shots, The Deluge in which the artist reworks Christian myths, religious icons and biblical scenes in a modern key. Because of these shots David LaChapelle has been at the center of many controversies, which accused him of excessive nudism, profanity and disrespect.
The Fellini of photography
David LaChapelle has entered the shortlist 10 most important photographers in the world thanks to his shots surrealcharacterized by bright and fluorescent colors fruit of an artisan work in which the compositions are elaborated and the colors are saturated. His work has often been described as baroqueeven excessive, in which a vision of modernity characterized by a marked irony is clear.
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His is a strongly photograph built: LaChapelle loves to tell modernity in his own way, very pop and without intellectualism. His are dreamlike photographic compositions bordering on the bizarre: not pure reportage, but real scenic art in which each shot is born from a project and a need to tell modern society.
Among his major influences he often cites painters Andrea Pozzo and Caravaggioor again Salvador Dalì, Jeff Koons, Michelangelo and Cindy Sherman.
In turn, his influence over the years has been very important and much discussed as the master of fashion photography Richard Avedon stated that LaChapelle was the only one with the potential to be the Magritte of his kind.
The social themes
One of the recurring fil rouges in LaChapelle’s art is the critique of the American dream. It is a famous example of this Death by Hamburgerwhere a girl is crushed by a giant inflatable hamburger, an icon of American hyperconsumerism.
In recent years LaChapelle has been very attentive to environmental themeso much so that he dedicates his most recent artistic activity to it, such as the show Divine Actswhich emphasizes how man’s constructions hurt the surrounding landscape.
Since 2006 David LaChapelle lives in one organic farm in Hawaii, which he founded, where there is no trace of the modern world and everything is powered by solar and water energy. A choice spurred by the need to isolate himself following the frenetic work he was undertaking in the advertising field, according to the photographer who has since felt the need to devote himself entirely to art.
(Photos taken from David LaChapelle’s Instagram profile)