Photographers in Focus: David LaChapelle – NOWNESS

When American photographer David LaChapelle took a break from the bustle of commercial photography in 2006, he believed he had given up shooting for good. Only later would the prolific creator return to the dark room, finding a new and attentive audience in the art world.

Having grown up Catholic, LaChapelle’s eye has continually returned to biblical themes—albeit fed through his outre sensibility. Figures such as Michael Jackson are substituted in his compositions for Christ, while hypnotic—even narcotic—colour palettes infuse his scenes with the gilded pomp and ceremony of the Catholic church, taken to a playful extreme. All the while, his work not so subtly hints at the erotic undertones of sacrament, pop culture, and sacrifice.

Over the past decade, LaChapelle’s deeply vibrant and stylised compositions, featuring the likes of Kanye West, Jay Z, and Nicki Minaj, have appeared in exhibitions at the Barbican Museum in London, Palazzo Reale in Milan, and Paris’s Musee d’Orsay. In this episode, LaChapelle took time out from tending his goats and vegetables to talk about his new-found tranquility.

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