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14 May

David LaChapelle in 10 incredible stagings

 

Deemed as the “Fellini of photography”, David LaChapelle did not steal his fame as the artistic director who knows how to add a dramatical kick to his shots. Known for their vivid colors, their half-naked models with arousing sculpted bodies and their dense and precise composition reminding of Christian iconography, his works depict apocalyptic, at times miraculous, or comic scenes in which kitsch equals drama. Throwback to the bondless creativity of the American photographer through 10 of his most marvelous pictures. 

By Matthieu Jacquet

  • 1. Lizzo on the front cover of Rolling Stones

     

     
     
     
     

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Une publication partagée par David LaChapelle (@david_lachapelle) le

     

    In January 2020, the American music review Rolling Stone unveils the cover of the second issue of the year: the singer and rapper Lizzo stands in the middle of a forest as a deity of nature, with a halo of light and a flowery body and veil. A consecration for the American singer, whom David LaChapelle also captured almost naked in other pictures, while either wearing a Louis Vuitton monogrammed bikini or a traditional Thai headdress.

2. Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow burning down a castle (1996)

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Une publication partagée par David LaChapelle (@david_lachapelle) le

 

Winter 1995. Young fashion designer Lee McQueen just has begun his brilliant career. David LaChapelle captures him, along with his patron, muse and friend Isabella Blow, in the garden of Hedingham Castle. Both of them play the game of a bizarre staging, in which Lee, wearing a bustier dress, holds a flaming torch and seems to have burnt down the castle. The photographer depicts a moving picture of the humor and uniqueness that unite the two late characters. 

3. The Last Supper revised (2003)

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Une publication partagée par David LaChapelle (@david_lachapelle) le

 

The Bible stands as an endless source of inspiration for David LaChapelle, who reinterprets religious stories under the lens of a provocative and kitsch aesthetics. Created in 2003, his photo series Jesus is me Homeboy, depicts contemporary situations inspired by scenes taking from the Godspel in which the Christ appears as the main figure. In the last shot of his series, David LaChapelle recreates The Last Supper: Jesus Christ surrounded by the Twelve Apostles embodied by a woman and eleven men from different ethnical backgrounds. A way to integrate colored people in a narration, which most of time, fails them. 

4. The house of sins (2013)

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Une publication partagée par David LaChapelle (@david_lachapelle) le

 

In Self Portrait as House (2013), David LaChapelle takes a doll's house as a space to highlight a sample of human vices and behaviours. Daily life scenes become dramatic as reenacted by models in their birthday suit. Here, an old lady struggles against a swan in the bathroom, there, a man masturbates in the closet looking at his laptop’s screen, while a young woman kneels down to pray in the bedroom and a dozen men tear themselves apart in the living room.

5. Michael Jackson as an archangel defeating the devil

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Une publication partagée par David LaChapelle (@david_lachapelle) le

 

On June 25th, 2009, a tragic news spreads around the entire world: The King of Pop just passed away at the age of 50 in his manor in Los Angeles. Few months only before his death, David LaChapelle took a series of portrait of him, either as Jesus dying in his mother's arms or as the Archangel Michael defeating Satan. A true honour foreseeing a gloomy reality. 

6. Faye Dunaway as an actress dreaming of success (1996)

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Une publication partagée par David LaChapelle (@david_lachapelle) le

 

As he photographed the actress Faye Dunaway in 1996, David LaChapelle finds his inspiration in movies. Inspired by John Schlesinger's film The Day of the Locust, after which he intitles his picture, the photographer draws a parallel between his model and the main character Faye Greener, a prostitute dreaming about being a successful actress. The American actress is lying down on the top of a car roof surrounded by a madding crowd, from which emerges an Oscar statuette: her dreams seem to come true.

7. At Travis Scott's fair (2018)

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Une publication partagée par David LaChapelle (@david_lachapelle) le

 

On August 3rd, 2018, the American rapper Travis Scott released his third studio album AstroworldTaken from a closed fair in Houston, the album title is illustrated with the cover created by David LaChapelle. To do so, the photographer uses Travis Scott's face as a bouncy castle through which visitors are invited to enter the park. Aside from the shot taken during daytime, others display a series of dancers, contortionists and performers (including Amanda Lepore) in the very same setting, but at night.

8. In the midst of the Flood (2007)

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Une publication partagée par David LaChapelle (@david_lachapelle) le

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Une publication partagée par David LaChapelle (@david_lachapelle) le

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Une publication partagée par David LaChapelle (@david_lachapelle) le

 

Today, the Deluge photo series is not only one of the most impressive staging made by the American photographer, but also a crucial step in his life and career. On the island of Maui, where he lives since 2007 and developed an organic farm, David LaChapelle takes this 7-meter-long picture, staging men, women and children going through the fatality of a looming deluge. The photographer directly refers to Michelangelo's frescos The Deluge, painted in 1508 on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

9. The Submerged Cathedral (2007)

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Une publication partagée par David LaChapelle (@david_lachapelle) le

 

The calm comes after the storm, and damages are slowly restored. Standing as a logical outcome, the series After the Deluge offers a range of different shots, including a very sticking one: le perspective of cathedral half-submerged in calm waters. A dozen of castaways appear in it, looking off-camera and calling for help, while the holy light shines on their face through the sumptuous stained-glass windows.

10. Today's world shipwreck (2019-2020)

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Une publication partagée par David LaChapelle (@david_lachapelle) le

 

With Spree, David LaChapelle stages a contemporary apocalypse. Created pretty recently, this quite pessimistic work represents a famous episode: the shipwreck of a cruise ship after hitting an iceberg. Through this revised Titanic, the photographer tells us about the shipwreck of a blind society which prefers to party rather than taking into account the harsh consequences of global warming and melting ice looming on itself. 

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