David LaChapelle is one of the most successful commercial photographers of his generation. After getting his feet wet with Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine in the 1980s, LaChapelle went on to establish a unique “hyper realistic” aesthetic and a portfolio of celebrity subjects that includes Madonna, David Beckham, Paris Hilton, Leonardo DiCaprio, Hillary Clinton, Muhammad Ali, and many others.
And yet, LaChapelle’s first love was fine art photography. In 2006, he gave up commercial projects, moved to Hawaii, and experienced what he calls “a rebirth.” LaChapelle’s career has come full circle, as his work has returned to the galleries where he launched his career. This was in evidence in LaChapelle’s recent exhibit Earth Laughs in Flowers at the Fred Torres gallery in New York City.
As LaChapelle tells Big Think, his return to fine art photography marks a return to “the dark ages of my life,” meaning the 12 years he spent in the darkroom in the 80s and 90s.
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For an artist like LaChapelle, who has worked in commercial as well as fine art photography, the distinction between high art and low art might seem to be a meaningless one. And yet, he tells Big Think that “much more is expected of a photograph in a gallery or hanging on a wall in a museum or gallery than is expected of a photograph in a magazine.”
“I don’t want to just put more random things out into the world or things that are dark and confusing. After all, it’s a confusing time in the world already. “I want pictures that shine a light on this time we live in” rather than just add to “the distraction and the noise,” he says. “I want these pictures to be very clear, have clarity and touch people.”
Image courtesy of David LaChapelle.
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