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Garish, colorful, luscious, lavishly detailed, sculptural, often provocative, sometimes scandalous: that is how we can describe the impressive oeuvre of the American photographer David LaChapelle, who captures stars such as Madonna, Pamela Anderson, Michael Jackson, Björk, and David Bowie in photographic portraits, fashion photographs, or music videos. Once a contract photographer, LaChapelle has long become an artist in his own right who confidently says, “I don’t see any difference between being a photographer and being an artist. I didn’t make those boundaries. If someone wants to think it’s art, that’s great, but I’ll let history decide.”
David LaChapelle’s exuberant and trashy compositions quickly reveal his familiarity with art history and pictorial traditions. These new photographic series implement borrowings from Christian iconography and the genre of the still life in LaChapelle’s famous visual language. Upon closer inspection, however, the vanitas motifs and Biblical allusions in Earth Laughs in Flowers turn out to be a cynical response to today’s pop culture. David LaChapelle avails himself of traditional symbols of the Western world, crossing them with the fashion phenomena and accessories of our time. In LaChapelle’s photographs, the hustle and bustle of our hedonistic society of excess congeals into a disturbing portrait of manners.
David LaChapelle, born in 1964 in Fairfield, Connecticut, works in Los Angeles and lives in Hawaii. He has had solo exhibitions at the Kunst Haus Wien, Vienna; Fotografiska Museet, Stockholm; and elsewhere. He has also participated in numerous group shows, including at the Brooklyn Museum, New York, and the Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin.