David LaChapelle Biography
*Photo credit New York Times
Photographer and filmmaker David LaChapelle is renowned for his work in fine arts, advertising, and fashion. Inspired by his relationship with fashion, magazines, and contemporary culture icons, his images have impacted celebrity photography. His humorous, provocative, and often sensual imagery often explores social issues.
Influenced by Surrealism, his artworks take recognizable imagery and juxtaposes them with dreamlike details. LaChapelle configures recognizable characters and elements in unusual landscapes, unique compositions, and narratives full of color. He embraces vibrant colors and hyper-realistic style with a signature high-gloss finish.
Born in Connecticut, LaChapelle's interest in photography started at a young age. As a young adult, he decided to pursue a career in photography. At seventeen, his work caught the attention of Andy Warhol, who offered him his first job at Interview Magazine photographing celebrities. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, his photographs exhibited in galleries throughout New York City. Additionally, his well-received celebrity images led him to create some of the most famous advertising campaigns and work with leading publishing houses such as Rolling Stone, Vogue, and Vanity Fair.
After establishing himself as a prominent figure in contemporary photography, LaChapelle expanded his work to include directing commercials, music videos, and theater stage productions. Notably, he worked on Elton John’s Red Piano live show. In 2004, he created the short documentary Krumped. The following year he developed RIZE, which received critical acclaim after officially opening the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival. However, by 2006, he decided to return to fine art and celebrity photography.
Some of the celebrities LaChapelle has worked with include Amanda Lepore, Cameron Diaz, Naomi Campbell, Britney Spears, Eminem, Uma Thurman, David Bowie, Madonna, Elizabeth Taylor, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Hillary Clinton. His photographs have been exhibited worldwide in cultural institutions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei and Casa dei Tre Oci in Venice. Additionally, his works belong to museum collections such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and The National Portrait Gallery of London. LaChapelle has received various photography awards and holds an honorary doctorate from the University of North Carolina School of Arts.
LaChapelle currently works from his New York and Paris studios.
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