David LaChapelle is known internationally for his surreal, vibrant and cinematic photographs, which are a reflection of pop culture throughout the decades. With his conceptual methodology, the subjects become characters in a meticulously orchestrated landscape, often embracing a profound social message.
Over the course of his 30+ year career, LaChapelle continues to be inspired by everything from art history to street culture, from the metaphysical to the immortal, projecting an image of twenty-first-century pop culture through his work that is both celebratory and critical. Always aware of larger social implications, LaChapelle’s work transcends the material world. He is quite simply the only photographic artist working today who has been able to successfully maintain a formidable impact in the realm of celebrity photography alongside the notoriously discerning contemporary art intelligentsia.
Through his mastery of color, composition, and imaginative narratives, LaChapelle’s staged tableau, portrait and still life works challenge devices of traditional photography.
In his editorial work, which has graced the covers and pages of publications including Italian Vogue, French Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, Rolling Stone, i-D and others, LaChapelle has photographed the most recognizable faces on the planet, immortalizing Elizabeth Taylor, Courtney Love, Lady Gaga, Angelina Jolie, Pamela Anderson, Madonna, Elton John, Naomi Campbell, Lil’ Kim, Uma Thurman, David Beckham, Paris Hilton, Hillary Clinton, Muhammad Ali and Alicia Keys, to name just a few.
Centered around inspiring narratives and captivating visual content, LaChapelle has also photographed some of the most memorable and award-winning advertising campaigns of his generation for brands including Lavazza, Kenzo, MAC Cosmetics, American Express, Absolut Vodka, Diesel, and MTV Networks, among many others.
“Mr. LaChapelle is certain to influence the work of a new generation of photographers in the same way that Mr. Avedon pioneered so much of what is familiar today. Of all the photographers inventing surreal images, Mr. Avedon said, it is LaChapelle who has the potential to be the genre’s Magritte.”
"In difficult times, positive messages are key and David LaChapelle has a skill of taking in the current climate and turning it around into powerful imagery which can have a profound impact.”
After establishing himself as a fixture in contemporary photography, LaChapelle branched out to direct music videos for iconic artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Amy Winehouse, and Britney Spears. He also won the MTV Music Award for best direction of a music video for Moby’s ‘Natural Blues’ and was nominated for his work with No Doubt, Christina Aguilera, and Elton John.
“My work is about finding beauty in the banal and making the ordinary extraordinary. I want to enlarge the idea of reality and help people feel that anything’s possible”
LaChapelle’s burgeoning interest in film also led him to direct blockbuster commercials for brands including Coca-Cola, Diesel, Schweppes, and H&M, as well as the short documentary ‘Krumped,’ a Sundance award-winner from which he developed ‘Rize’, the critically acclaimed theatrical film release that was selected to open the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival.
Creating lavish sets and breathtaking short films for live theatrical events has allowed LaChapelle to grace the stage with his sublime, singular vision. His work includes Elton John’s long-running Las Vegas spectacular, ‘The Red Piano,’ which debuted in February 2004 at the Colosseum Theater at Caesars Palace where it was originally booked for 75 performances but was repeatedly extended to 241 performances over 5 years. Critics raved that LaChapelle delivered a first-rate technical knockout that masterfully synchronized sound and vision.
"David LaChapelle fashioned a dizzying sexy, emotional spectacle that both parodied expectations about Vegas glitz and put new life and meaning into fifteen of Elton John's strongest songs.”
Heralded for his creative concepts that reach consumers in unconventional ways, LaChapelle conceived of the large-scale inflatable golden sculpture depicting Travis Scott’s head (complete with gilded dreads) for the cover of the rapper’s double-platinum ‘Astroworld’ album; a now-iconic element that has appeared in cities across the US and inspired a multi-channel viral sensation within hours of its release, with over 20 million fan-inspired memes.
LaChapelle also envisioned an inflatable rainbow-colored tank for use in Diesel’s “Make Love Not Walls” campaign, which centered on a diverse cast breaking through a heart-shaped hole in a concrete barrier wall. The colorful tank instantly became an icon of inclusion, creativity, freedom, and love, popping up in cities around the world to create positive change by rallying against hate.
In demand for speaking engagements worldwide, LaChapelle has shared a wealth of experience and insight from his storied career through a series of inspiring lectures and conversations among key industry figures and luminaries.
Most recently, LaChapelle participated in Adobe’s annual MAX creativity conference with an audience comprising over 12,000 global creative professionals and a live stream to over 700,000 online viewers, as well as speaking engagements for Cartier’s Social Lab, Citibank, and a vast array of lectures and artist talks globally in connection with his book publications and museum exhibitions.
Embracing his roots in fine art photography, LaChapelle creates symbolic and timeless large-scale representations of joy, lust, and paradise that reject the material world. His artwork is an important slice of history which makes a profound commentary on the contemporary world. In recent years, he has shot a series of floral portraits based on Dutch still lifes; created metaphysical and religious allegories in response to masterworks by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Rubens and others; and, perhaps most fascinating, looked to the mournful loneliness of Edward Hopper when creating a series of hyperreal nocturnal images of gas stations in the jungles of Maui.
One of the most celebrated and revered artists of his time, LaChapelle has been the subject of exhibitions in both galleries and leading public institutions around the world, including record-breaking solo museum exhibitions at the Barbican Museum in London, Palazzo Reale Milano, Museo del Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso in Mexico City, the Monnaie de Paris, the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel, at which he was awarded Artist of the Year.
“David exists in this new territory, in the collapse between vanguard and pop culture, and it’s a very interesting space…you see that he’s really an important part of image making in our time.”
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