During the course of his artistic career, David LaChapelle was hired by Andy Warhol, fired by Madonna, photographed Pamela Anderson, Lady Gaga, and Hillary Clinton, and made a star of the transgender personality Amanda Lepore. He earned millions and spent much of that on his self-financed movie about an urban dance form created in the rough neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles. When the film, “Rize,” failed to attract a large audience, the weary LaChapelle packed up his career and disappeared.
Now, many years later, LaChapelle is back in New York briefly, overseeing his one-man show at a Madison Avenue art gallery and a separate commissioned installation that is opening in the lobby of the Lever House on Park Avenue. With their erotic gloss, their sizzling aesthetics and their slick production values, the photographs at Michelman Fine Art are recognizably the work of a man who in his editorial work for “Vanity Fair,” “Interview,” “Rolling Stone” and others photographed David Duchovny dressed in Lycra bondage trousers, Kanye West as Black Jesus, a turbaned Elizabeth Taylor looking like a $ 5 fortune teller, Eminem naked but for a well-placed prop and other stars like Tupac Shakur (wearing soap bubbles), Angelina Jolie and Lady Gaga baring their souls for the camera, along with a good deal more.
At the Lever House, however, the artist has returned to techniques he employed when, at the very beginning of his career, long before he became the go-to video director for pop music divas, he used naïve, childlike forms like linked paper chains to make his work. In the space that in the past has presented exhibitions of works by artists such as Barbara Kruger and Damien Hirst, Mr. LaChapelle has hung the chains from walls and ceiling in looping festoons. At first glance, the stapled links only look like colorful decorations for a children’s party, but when viewed more closely they reveal images of naked bodies, as an allegory for human connection.
This piece includes a number of high-resolution color photographs, a photo-gallery and two music-videos with artwork by LaChapelle.
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