David LaChapelle 1984-2013


There is something about David LaChapelle's photography that despite seeming strange, appears to be nonetheless familiar. In his most characteristic images, an unlikely configuration of characters and elements interact on an unusual landscape. It looks as if in his photographs, as occurs in the uncanny, the familiar has become strange.

His first approach to photography was when he was 6 years old during a family vacation to Puerto Rico. There he used the camera to portray his mother, wearing a bikini and sipping champagne on a balcony. Since that time, he was obsessed with photography. His career as a photographer began in the 1980s when he started to show his art in New York galleries. His work caught the attention of Andy Warhol, who offered him his first job as a photographer at Interview Magazine. His photographs of celebrities in the interviews section reaped good comments, and soon he found himself taking photos for the best publishing houses and creating some of the most famous advertising campaigns of his generation.

On this occasion, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lima exhibited a selection of photographic series ranging from 1984 to 2013, in which the artist shows a critique of pop culture of the XXI century.
We can see David LaChapelle doing a tour of the exhibition.

Iconic People
David LaChapelle worked with celebrities and Hollywood's most iconic people. He worked with celebrities such as Cameron Diaz, Naomi Campbell, Britney Spears, Eminem, Uma Thurman, David Bowie, Drew Barrimore, among others.

In his words: "I met Andy Warhol at clubs in New York... I talked to him and said I was a photographer and if could I show him my pictures and he said 'Sure'. He gave me my first extended place to work as a photographer at Interview magazine. It was my schooling."

The strangeness of the picture concerns the disproportion in size between Cameron Diaz and the setting of the photo. Regarding the dollhouse, Diaz evokes Alice -the one from Wonderland- after eating the cake which makes her grow.

David LaChapelle's work is influenced by his relationship with magazines, fashion and the icons of contemporary culture, while he shows his own world view.

"Jesus is my Homeboy" Series
Jesus Is My Homeboy is a series of six photographs depicting scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, but this time reconfigured in the anonymous setting of a contemporary metropolis.

The main objective of LaChapelle for this series was to help dispel the trial of the fundamentalists by placing Jesus in nowadays, not surrounded by samaritans or lepers or people possessed by demons, but instead, with today marginalized people.

David LaChapelle works with Michael Jackson
The very meaning of the pieces relies on the media controversy surrounding Michael Jackson. His work recruits broadcast journalism's discourse and orientation towards spectacle in the construction of its meanings.

Michael Jackson is portrayed as the Archangel Michael defeating the devil in the midst of a sea cliff. While classic religious iconography shows the Archangel Michael in armor.

Here Jackson wears his typical attire making the singer immediatly recognizable as himself.

These photos belong to the series "The Kingdom Come".

David LaChapelle works with Amanda Lepore
The different lines of visual production feed back mutually because they all shape a kind of subjectivity. The society consumes symbols, by which a "life style" is adopted or existence is modeled.

The famous transexual icon Amanda Lepore poses as Marylin Monroe but in the version of the portraits of the actress made by Andy Warhol. The beauty ideal exceeds the limits of a beauty salon, as it demands a surgical production of the body, a complete reinvention of the person.

"Still Life" Series
The "Still Life" series connects consumer culture and death around celebrities, questioning the possibilities and limits of turning a person into a commodity. For the series, LaChapelle photographed the remains of wax figures.

This picture shows the armless torso and face of Madonna, wearing lipstick, and including her characteristic mole and crucifix earing. The importance breasts have in the picture suggests that the iconic nature of the character is inseparable from its sexualization.

Shows Michael Jackson's face fractured at the level of the eyes, a severed and bandaged forearm and a few cut-off fingers. The mask's artifice is patent. Is a commentary ont he nature of fame, where the reproducibility of the image occurs at the expense of its fragility, where icons are based on their artificiality.

LaChapelle is the only artist of photography that is active today, who has been able to successfully maintain a profound impact on the field of celebrity photography, as well as the notoriously demanding contemporary art intellectuality.
Credits: Story

Museum of Contemporany Art of Lima.

Communication: Alicia Bisso.
Exhibition curator: LaChapelle Studio, Greta Hint.

Credits: All media
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