Artist Talk: David LaChapelle @SVA

Last night at the SVA Theater photographer, David LaChapelle, discussed his work with writer and curator, Lyle Rexer. The conversation lasted for over two hours and covered David’s career as a fashion/portrait photographer and as a fine artist. This event was presented in conjunction with David LaChapelle’s current exhibition, Earth Laughs in Flowers on view through March 24th at Fred Torres Collaborations.

David LaChapelle uses esthetics and personages of pop culture to discuss and criticize the morality of Western society. The themes that continue to emerge throughout his career are: richness and ownship, church and religion, the circle of birth and death, Africa, and climate changes. He became known as a fashion photographer and tried to push the limits of the medium by incorporating wider ideas, including criticism, into fashion and editorial photography. In 2006, he decided to minimize his participation in commercial photography, re-entered the art world, which earned him more creative freedom.

One of his last series published in the magazine, Vogue Homme, was Recollections In America. David called it ‘Drunk Americans’. It is a deeply critical series inspired by found photographs from family albums.  And, it was still a fashion shoot though it doesn’t to look like it. David LaChappelle stated that even he was amazed that this series got published.

In this advertising campaign produced for German luxury car manufacturer LaChapelle incorporated the idea of climate changes that is partly caused by use of cars:


His project Negative Currency is a critique of money institution:


References to Ancient and Renaissance art can be found in many of David’s works, the photographer likes to use images of Jesus, Madonna, angels, female and male nudes, often in a quite challenging ways. The photograph from Heaven to Hell directly refers us to the Michelangelo’s sculpture the Pietà where Mary is ‘played’ by Courtney Love and Jesus looks like Kurt Cobain…


David LaChapelle’s new series Earth Laughs in Flowers includes ten large-scale still life photographs. It is currently on view at Fred Torres Collaborations being shown for the first time in the United States. All photographs from the exhibition can be seen here.

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