David LaChapelle in Lucca

At Palazzo Bocella, Lucca Center of Contemporary Art an exhibition of David  LaChapelle up to November  4th 2012.  Fifty three masterworks from his ten celebrated sections: Star System, Deluge (Awakened), Earth Laughs in Flowers, After the Pop, Destruction and Disaster, Excess, Plastic People, Dream evokes Surrealism, Art References and Negative Currency.

An  amazing journey into the  pop and surrealistic world of the  American artist who challenges the customary style of the ordinary photographer. He escapes any image of the globetrotter  who waits for the extraordinary snapshot  to  immortalize.  He is better defined, as some critics suggest, as the seismographer of his time and the sharp observer of the moral failings, weakness and  human contradictions of our present age. The procedure he uses is quite unusual.  He accurately plans  his ideas in a sketch or even in a water colored outline, building up a  sort of  detailed set conveying a final surrealistic theatrical effect.

LaChapelle’s photos are planned thoughts, ideas caught by shots. They are never by chance. His mental scenarios turn into amazingly personal sets. Thence the series The Star System where the stars’  overlapping public and private  images feature the theatrical shot of Elton John with  boiled eggs filling up his eyes in a private and intimate environment at breakfast time. He is here telling a story like a historical painter. The procedure could be pictorial but oil colors and brushes are here being replaced by a camera.

As to La Chapelle’s biography  he started in the 80’s working for New York galleries and then for Andy Warhol as a  photographer of The Interview Magazine. Plenty the celebrities he immortalized: Angelina Jolie, Madonna, the American transsexual Amanda Lepore, Eminem, Uma Thurman, Elizabeth Taylor, David Beckham, Paris Hilton, Jeff Koons, Leonardo DiCaprio, Hillary Clinton, Muhammad Ali, and Britney Spears,  just to name a few. Sometimes his snapshots portray woman  in full or partial nudity intentionally devoid of any shocking or  voyeuristic urges. He means in fact to liberate the representation of the female body from pornography and from any association of nakedness and sin.

One of his favourite and recurrent issues is the blame for  the marketing method, including in it the audience and even the photograph himself as creator of the bait of the sales scheme. For the Louis Vuitton campaign he shot  New York rapper Lil Kim, her whole body was covered with Louis Vuitton logos,  thus producing a sales promoting attraction and the consequent  commodification of the female body. The body was then  changed into a label and into an advertising space, sounding  like subversive and unusual ideas in the marketed product.

LaChapelle’s  limitless talent also branches out to music videos, theatrical events for stars like Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears.

His successful documentary Krumped about new forms of negro dancings, shot in  Los Angeles suburbs, was acclaimed at Sundance Festival and later chosen by the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

His  solo exhibitions are plenty. They take place  worldwide at Palazzo Reale, Milan in 2007, Museo del Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, Mexico City and  the Musee de La Monnaie, Paris in 2009 , the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei, Taiwan and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel,  New York  Lever House in 2011 up to Prague Galerie Rudolfinum started in February 2012.

An internationally artistic and poetic adventure  which is worthwhile experiencing  for the sharp criticism to some contemporary issues such as addiction to fast food or worship of anorectic symbols of beauty. The conveyed references to Pop and Surrealism get imbued with updated meanings, able to communicate  with a wide and different audience, thus focusing the commercial promotion of prestigious brands such as Diesel, Nokia,  Tommy Hilfiger,  L’Oreal,  Lavazza,  H&M,  Burger King where LaChapelle played an overriding role.

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