Angelina Jolie, orgasmic, in the exhibition of David LaChapelle in New York

New York witnesses the largest exhibition to date on American artist David LaChapelle (Connecticut, 1963), one of the most published photographers in the world, author of fanciful portraits of celebrities, but also critical scenes with current culture.

read also: Black is beautiful: New York’s black women portrayed in a photo show

The LaChapelle show in New York.  (Photo: AFP)
The LaChapelle show in New York. (Photo: AFP)

Make Believe, by David LaChapelle

The exhibition, entitled “Make Believe” (Fantasia) and which occupies the six floors of the Fotografiska Museum in Manhattan, includes more than 150 photographs taken between 1984 and 2022, including the last snapshot of Andy Warholwho became his mentor after signing him to his “Interview” magazine during the 1980s.

Warhol’s influence on LaChapelle is reflected in two powerfully attention-grabbing works: “My Own Marilyn Monroe” and “My Own Liz Taylor,” in which he portrays the voluptuous-lipped trans model Amanda Lepore to recreate the images of the Hollywood divas features the “King of Pop Art.”

Over 150 photos at Make Believe.  (Photo: AFP)
Over 150 photos at Make Believe. (Photo: AFP)

Before his spotlight more famous faces have been placed, such as Tupak Shakur, who appears taking a shower; Angelina Joliewith orgasmic gesture in the field; Naomi Campbell, transformed into an African Venus in his reinterpretation of “El rapto de Europa” or Elton John, posing between his doubles in a hospital.

The already ex-partner of celebrities par excellence could not be missing, Kanye West and kim kardashianhim wearing a crown of thorns as a black Jesus Christ, in a 2006 work, and she as a modern Mary Magdalene, covering her breasts with her hands and crying silver streamers, in 2018.

David LaChapelle is one of the most important photographers today.  (Photo: AFP)
David LaChapelle is one of the most important photographers today. (Photo: AFP)

The David LaChapelle Story

The exhibition delves into the personal story of LaChapelle, who began his career in New York during the AIDS epidemic, a painful time in which he lost loved ones and leaned on his Christian faith, which led him to portray them as saints, martyrs or angels through experimental photography.

The religious iconography dominates part of his workwith series like “Jesus is my colleague”, in which he put Jesus Christ at the center of a commercial fashion photography commission, or with his posthumous biblically inspired portrait of Michael Jackson playing the archangel and stomping on the devil.

The David LaChapelle show in New York.  (Photo: AFP)
The David LaChapelle show in New York. (Photo: AFP)

Another of LaChapelle’s concerns is the environment, which is reflected in large pieces with a visual impact such as “Seismic Shift”, in which he recreates a museum in ruins and flooded; “Spree”, a mega cruise stranded in an ice landscape, or the series “Aristocracy”, about private “jets”.

Likewise, the multidisciplinary artist questions the ideal of the “American dream” in a series of photos of family reunions from the 1970s and 1980s that he bought on eBay and manipulated with elements that have nothing to do with it, in such a way that it is impossible distinguish which is the original.

Angelina Jolie and Kim Kardashian, portrayed by David LaChapelle, in a mega show in New York

Despite everything, LaChapelle reveals a certain hope in humanity with “Deluge”, a large-format image where naked people help each other in an apocalyptic scene; or at least hope on the planet, with images of abandoned gas stations and engulfed by nature.

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