Born: Simsbury, CT
“I believe in a visual language that should be as strong as the written word.”
– David LaChapelle
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David LaChapelle is a director and photographer who works on the turf of advertising, fine art and fashion. He is renowned for his style that suggests surrealism, sexuality, uniqueness and humor. When he turned nine, LaChapelle with his family shifted to North Carolina. He studied at the North Carolina School of Arts and then at the age of fourteen he returned to Connecticut. LaChapelle also studied in New York’s School of Visual Arts.
He was offered a job in the Interview magazine by Andy Warhol. In addition, he worked for other magazines, like Vogue, Photo, GQ, Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone.
He has published four photo-books, including Hotel LaChapelle, Artists and Prostitutes, Heaven to Hell, and LaChapelle Land. In all books there are surreal and flamboyant photographs of Whitney Houston, Bundchen, Marilyn Manson, Shakira, David Bowie, Naomi Campbell, Björk, Shirley Manson, Lil’ Kim, David Bekham, Uma Thurman,Cameron Diaz, Britney Spears, Lance Armstrong, Pamela Anderson, Leanardo DiCaprio, Cher, Christina Aguilera, Pink, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Paris Hilton, Minogue, Amanda Lepore, Hugh Hefner, and Brooke Shields.
Influences for his work, include Richard Avedon, Andy Warhol, Diane Arbus, Helmut Newton, Botticelli, Georgia O’Keefe, Walt Whitman, Michelangelo and Christian Zwettler.
David LaChappelle photographed the famous advertisement of sailors kissing for Diesel in 1995. This ad created many controversies and the U.S. Government barred gays, lesbians and bisexuals from entering into the military service. However, in 2011 the law was removed by Barack Obama the President of America and by Renzo Rosso of Diesel.
In 2007, LaChapelle displayed a collection of photographs called Awakened. Water, flood and religion were the universal themes of this collection. Some images show people as corpses by suspending them on water. Other photos showed cathedrals and museums being flooded with water. Among these is an image that caught much attention, it was a modern version of The Flooding by Michelangelo. The photo has many things going on, a background of Ceaser’s Palace with Las Vegas theme and destroyed banners of Burger King and Gucci.
As far as his direction is concerned, David LaChapelle was the director of The Red Piano show of Elton Johnat the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in 2004. There is all-embracing use of LED screens with visual technologies. The show also included LaChapelle’s short films.
He has been the director of many advertisements by eminent brands, like Burger King, Nokia, Diesel, L’Oréal, Lavazza and Tommy Hilfiger. He directed an advertisement in 2006 for H&M, known as Romeo and Juliet. He also did direction for a commercial for Boots Group. He was the director of the season one of the most popular show by Channel 4 – Desperate Housewives.
His work has been described as satirical, outrageous, bizarre and surrealist. An editor of Interview, Ingrid Sischy described that LaChapelle’s photography is idiosyncratic and strong because it has humor, and it suggests how much he is politically and socially aware of his surroundings.
David LaChapelle has won many awards, such as the Best New Photographer of the Year award by American and French Photo magazines, 1995; the VH-1 presented him Photographer of the Year Award, 1996; Best Style Photography for photography in magazine at the Alfred Eisenstaedt Awards of Life magazine, 1998; and many other awards not just for photography but for direction as well.