The Exhibition

David LaChapelle, the great American artist and photographer, comes back, after more than fifteen year, at Palazzo delle Esposizioni with one of the most important and exhaustive retrospective. There will be more than 100 works on view, some presented for first time in a museum including many large-scale works.

Rome has been a milestone in the artistic life of David LaChapelle. In 2006, during a journey in Italy, the artist has the chance of a private visit of the Sistine Chapel; his artistic sensibility is so unsettled by the beauty and power of Roman art that those elements give the ultimate drive to the necessity of a change of his artistic production.Until then LaChapelle prefers that his photos would be published on fashion magazines and books, without critical texts. The goal has never been to restrict to the mere picture, but to reach the broader audience as possible – this is the way to be a pop artist – and lead the lecture of his work on emotional shock level. LaChapelle pushed his aesthetics to the limit, but in 2006 walked out on the scene. He turned away from worldliness in order to live in a wild island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean “I said what I wanted to say”. The exhibition will focus on the works realized by the artist starting from 2006, when he produces the monumental series titled The Deluge, which leads to a meaningful turning point in the artistic path of David LaChapelle. Through the realization of The Deluge, modeled after Michelangelo’s impressive fresco in the Sistine Chapel, the artist returns to conceiving works with the unique purpose to exhibit in art galleries and in museums. A work that is not commissioned and destined to the pages of a fashion magazine or an advertising campaign. After The Deluge, the American photographer begins to produce artwork with new aesthetical and conceptual concerns. The most evident sign of the change is the vanishing of the human presence in the serial works: the living models, that in all the previous works (the only exception is The Electric Chair, 2001, personal interpretation of Andy Warhol’s famous artwork) have had a central part in the composition and in the message embodied by the image, disappear. The Car Crash, Negative Currencies, The Earth Laughs in Flowers, Gas Stations, Land Scapes, up to the most recent Aristocracy series, follow this new aesthetic choice: LaChapelle resoundingly deletes the flesh, what was the previously identifiable element of his art. To allow the public to know the “origins” of LaChapelle work before The Deluge, the exhibition will also include a selection of some artworks that includes portraits of celebrities, from music to fashion and movies, scenes based on religious themes with surrealistic touches, references to masterpieces of art history and cinema, an artistic production defined by the chromatic saturation and movement, with which the American photographer reached his particular aesthetical style and influenced many artists of the following generations. In the exhibition there will also be a projection space dedicated to the backstage videos, which, describing the composite process of photo sets construction, clearly reveal as that the artist’s role is extended also to direction and scenic design of his own photos.


David LaChapelle is known internationally for his exceptional talent in combining a unique hyperrealistic aesthetic with profound social messages. LaChapelle’s photography career began in the 1980’s when he began showing his artwork in New York City galleries. After attending the North Carolina School of Arts, he moved to New York where he enrolled in both the Art Students League and The School of Visual Arts. With exhibitions at 303 Gallery, Trabia McAffee, and others, his work caught the eye of Andy Warhol, who offered him his first professional photography job. His photographs of celebrities in Interview garnered positive attention, and before long he was shooting for a variety of top editorial publications and creating some of the most memorable advertising campaigns of his generation. After establishing himself as a fixture amongst contemporary photography, LaChapelle expanded his work to include direction of music videos, live theatrical events, and documentary film. His directing credits include music videos for artists such as Christina Aguilera, Moby, Jennifer Lopez, Amy Winehouse, Britney Spears, and No Doubt. His stage work includes Elton John’s The Red Piano, the Caesar’s Palace spectacular he designed and directed in 2004. His burgeoning interest in film led him to make the short documentary Krumped, an award-winner at Sundance from which he developed RIZE, the feature film acquired for worldwide distribution by Lion’s Gate Films. The film was released theatrically in the US and in 17 different countries in the summer of 2005 to huge critical acclaim, and was chosen to open the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. Recent years have brought LaChapelle back to where he started, with some of the world’s most prestigious galleries and museums exhibiting his works. Galleries such as Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York, Jablonka Galerie in Berlin, the Robilant + Voena Gallery in London; and Maruani & Noirhomme in Belgium have housed his works as well as Institutions such as the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Peru, Palazzo delle Esposizioni and Palazzo Reale in Italy; the Barbican in London, and The Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin

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