DAVID LASCHAPEL – GLOSSY PHOTOGRAPHER, PROVOCATIONAL CLIPMAKER AND MASTER OF SURREALISTIC GLAMOR
American David LaChapelle is known both in the fashion world and in show business. He is one of the most famous glossy photographers of our time, included by the American Photo Association in the top 10 most important people in photography. He is the author of famous video clips for a huge number of musicians of the first magnitude, from Moby, for whose video Christina Ricci turned into an angel, to Christina Aguilera, who was terribly criticized for the video sequence on the verge of a foul to the song Dirrty.
All the famous glossy magazines of the world resorted to the services of an extraordinary photographer. As a director, Lachapelle worked with Elton John, Meraya Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Florence Welch, Robbie Williams and other musicians, receiving awards for the video many times. The National Portrait Gallery in London acquired his work, in which designer Alexander McQueen and his muse Isabella Blow pose.
David Lachapelle is known for his large-scale approach and the ability to turn any shooting into a journey through a rabbit hole to the world of exaggeration, grotesque and strangeness. Surprisingly, the fruits of the stormy, ironic and unpredictable imagination of the photographer only emphasize and reveal the facets of the personality of his models. One day of Lashapel’s work costs more than 200 thousand dollars, but the result is worth it. His photographs are unique and recognizable, so the stars willingly collaborate with him, not being afraid to appear in an ambiguous form.
Lady Gaga posed for him, dressed only in narrow paper strips of newspaper clippings and transparent plastic bubbles, and Eminem from the famous photo was generally covered by one dynamite saber – but burning. The photographer made Britney Spears, Whitney Houston and Madonna divas, looking at the viewer from the height of their popularity. The pianist and singer Alisha Keyes had to stand next to the burning piano, and David Beckham had to stand against the backdrop of the English flag “St. George” in a pose that caused dangerous associations with the crucifix.
With the help of his works, Lachapelle openly speaks with the audience on topics that concern him – the bizarreness of invented other worlds, the meaninglessness of consumerism, sexual and gender self-determination. He often collaborates with the famous trance model Amanda Lepore, calling transgender people bold, mysterious and special, like ancient deities. The themes of the commercialization of art, domination and submission, demonstrative eroticism, glamorous iconography intertwine in his photographs, for which the photographer was subjected to heavy criticism many times. Why does David Lachapelle get away with it?
The work of David Lachapelle, with all the ambiguity of “artistic tools” – is a real high art. A former Connecticut teenager who was harassed by hooligans and was expelled from school at age 15, became one of Andy Warhol’s favorite students. Lachapelle was close to the master of pop art until his death. The influence of Warhol, as well as Salvador Dali, Cindy Sherman and other provocative artists can be guessed in the style of Lachapelle, which is called pop surrealism and surreal glamorous kitsch. The photographer is sometimes called the “photo Fellini” for his ability to present the world from a completely new, strange-attractive point of view.
In his work, Lachapelle uses a huge amount of knowledge about art, cultural history, pop art and design in general, as well as about the night world of New York, where he moved before he came of age. Not reaching the age of 18, he began to earn extra money in the famous Studio54 club, where he saw with his own eyes how the whirlpool of parties is raging and how drugs and the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic affect the creative community. However, Lachapelle made his first steps in the profession as a child.
David’s mom, an amateur photographer, revealed to him the first secrets of the profession, but as a child, the boy wanted to become an artist. David was born in 1963. The future master of photo glamor grew up in the American outback, where he moved to study at the North Carolina State School of Fine Arts. During his studies, Lachapelle finally realized that he had to deal with photography and, having studied for a year, he moved to New York. There he enrolled in the Arts Student League and Manhattan SVA.
Already at the age of 17, Lachapelle made the first shoot for Interview, the magazine that Warhol published. After that, the photographer’s career began to develop rapidly: he began to make glossy and commercial photo shoots, portraits of movie stars and representatives of show business, thematic photo essays on different, but always provocative topics. Having consolidated the status of the guru of fashion photography, he began to shoot documentaries and video clips from the mid-90s, which he also succeeded. However, since 2012, its activity has sharply decreased, and he almost “disappeared from the radar.” Where and why is the photographer hiding?