A Retrospective of Discovery
To describe David LaChapelle in a word. It’s impossible. This is a man whom has fascinated me for years. To get in his head, you would be living in a world of full, vibrant colors. Your imagination completely off the hook. You would be listening to your introspective voice needing to be unleashed through meticulous artistry via your camera and much planning. You would produce art that is so complex and surreal that can only lead to the next must have in your repretoire. You live on the edge of prolific explanation, nostalgia with a twist, a floral explosion of fine art and naughtiness entertained with a sense of bravado.
In 2012 I was able to meet David in New York at the PDN PhotoPlus show where he was featured as a keynote speaker. It was incredible to watch him tell his story and reveal a lifetime of avant garde direction in photography and editing. His charisma was alive and well in a rare photographer crowd appearance.
David was first raised in Connecticut, born in 1963. At 15, he found his way to the world of artistic vision and photography after he ran away to NYC and worked as a busboy for Studio 54. He subsequently met Andy Warhol at 17 and landed a gig with Interview Magazine through him. Warhol gave LaChapelle some exceptional advice. “Do whatever you want. Just make sure everybody looks good.” David went on to work commercially for many years, shooting portraits and other campaigns for several high profile magazines. He is well known and respected in the fine art world of gallery exhibition and has authored several books. David decided it was time to take a reprieve in 2006 when he abruptly left the scene and moved to a remote island in Hawaii, living off the grid and experiencing life differently. In recent years he has hit the gallery scene hard and he continues to create a sensibility for current social issue. Throughout the years David has been the mind behind several memorable music videos.
An in studio interview with VICE gives us a visual perspective of David’s playground.
An interview for LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS includes his Refineries exposé.
Mixed in old masters style painting inspiration and pop culture. David created an incredible series ‘Earth Laughs in Flowers‘ 2008-2011
‘Recollections in America’ 2006 is a series that David took 1970’s retired images and gave them a new humorous twist utilizing photoshop, alcohol and weapons with an imagination looking into a time when the 50+ generation were discovering their worlds and shaping who they would become.
A video series by MUSÉE Magazine sharing his advice to artist photographers.
My favorite LaChapelle interview by Andrea Blanch.
Recently David made a commencement speech for the class of 2015 at UNCSA
“Every one of you has a different path, but just remember, it’s not about what you’re going to get out of being an artist, It’s what you’re going to give. The mark you’re going to leave on this world.” -David LaChapelle
I leave you his quote while we await the next beautiful, compelling, mind blowing work. He is leaving his mark on us as the most interesting artist of our time. I enjoyed making this retrospective for you. I am compelled to go create and crawl into my own head to see what I’ve got. How about you?
To see and learn more about Davids works, visit his website davidchapelle.com
For a list of his work in books you can own see the David LaChapelle Library on Amazon.
One last video sharing David’s eccentric, colorful, artistically naughty, thought provoking, cultural side.
“Live in your art to create a realization only you may understand, while others imagine your intention”.