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Barbican Centre Museum

LaChapelle: Photographs

London, United Kingdom

October 10 - December 23, 2002

Press Release:

‘ You can take a picture of a porno TV host that people will remember. That’s my goal: to get the pictures torn out of the magazine and up on the refrigerator. I’ve always thought of the magazine as the gallery and the refrigerator as the museum. If my pictures make it to someone’s fridge, I’m really happy.’ David La Chapelle

The first British exhibition of cult American fashion and portrait photographer, David La Chapelle goes on display in Barbican Gallery from 10 October -23 December 2002. La Chapelle’s unique blend of surrealism, kitsch, theatrically and eroticism changed the direction for fashion photography in the 1990s. His ability to conjure extraordinary fantasy worlds and extend the boundaries of image making, has resulted in him being one of the most sough after photographers of his generation. 

This major survey exhbition of around 130 works, selected with the photographer, brings together all of his most significant images from mid-1980s to the present day. It will include Lachapelle’s renowned celebrity photographers including those of Madonna, David Bowie, Naomi Campbell, Elton John, Debbie Harry, Pamela Anderson, L’il Kim, Bjork, Faye Dunaway and, for his first time, his much publicized pictures of David Beckham, taken prior to the world cup. Portraits such a Britney Spears pictured in her bedroom with Tinky Winky, and Eminem have become iconic pictures of their time.

La Chapelle: Photographs

The earlist images include a previously unexhibited full-frontal male nude portrait (1986) and an early black and white portrait of Andy Warhol (1987). Thereafter, the exhibition selection concentrates on the development of this mature significance styl, the emergence of which is marked by ‘ Body Builders’, and his massively successful Diesel campaign, both of 1994. Also featured is work from La Chapelle’s most recent images for the Lavazza publicity Campaign ‘Espress Yourself’ in 2002.

David La Chapelle was born in Connecticut in the mid-60s. He originally studied Fine Art at North Carolina School of the Arts before moving to New York in the mid-80s. There he met Andy Warhol and encountered Pop Art first-hand. He decided to become a photographer, eventually landing his first professional job at Warhol’s Interview Magazine. A memorable spell in London in the mid-80s brought La Chapelle in to contact with the legendary performance artist Leigh Bowery, the dancer/ choreographer Michael Clark and film-maker John Maybury.

La Chapelle’s work is characterized by a diverse range of influences, but owes a particular debt to film makers like Tim Burton, Ridley Scott, with echoes of Federico Fellini. La Chapelle emphasises that his surreal tableaux are real staging tat often take on a grand visionary scope. Digital retouching is enlisted only to polish the surfaces, saturate the colour and drop in details.

In addition to his still photography La Chapelle directs music videos for select artists. His haunting video for Moby’s “Natural Blues” was named MTV Europe Best Video of the year, and nominated in the US for “Best Male Artist” category, and for the best “Visionary Video” at the VH-1/Vogues Fashion Awards. This film has encouraged LaChapelle to explore the story-telling possibilities of photography.

The recipient of countless photographic awards, La chapelle is a contributor to Italian Vogue, I-D, The Face, Rolling Stone, Interview and Vanity Fair. His commercial clients include MTV, Pepsi, Volvo, Prescriptive, Estee lauder, Levis, Diesel, Iceberg and Lavazza. 

This exhibition has been organised by Barbican Art Galleries and KunstHaus Vienna in collaboration with La chapelle’s Studio and the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York. 

The exhibition will be shown at the same time as Rapture: Art’s Seduction by Fashion since 1970 (shown on the upper level of the Gallery).

Both La chapelle and Rapture exhibitions will be complemented by a reading area where visitors can look through literature and magazines relating to both exhibitions and enjoy a sample of Lavazza coffee. A display will highlight Lavazza’s support of photographic art over many years and will include work by Elliot Erwitt and David La chapelle. In November Lavazza will also launch their new Lavazza Calnder 2003.

Associated Events

David La chapelle will be in conversation on Saturday 19 october, from 12 noon-1.30pm in Cinema2. Admissions 6/4 euro concs. Joint ticket for the exhibition and the event 11/6 euro.

A comprehensively illustrated full-colour publication (price 25 euro) accompanies the exhibition. Only available at the Barbican exhibition and through Zwemmers outlets.

Lavazza is proud to sponsor Barbican Gallery’s two major exhibitions: La chapelle: Photographs and Rapture: Art’s seduction by Fashion since 1970.

For over half a century, Lavazza has strongly believed in the collaboration between communications and art, and through it suspport and commission has encouraged and enabled artist to create new works of art in the fields of photography, design, cinema, new technologies and fashion.

For more than a century Lavazza has been the leading espresso coffee choice of most Italian and is recognised worldwide as one of the symbols of the Italian quality of life.


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