Photos by G. Art by David LaChapelle.
Artist and photographer David LaChapelle gave a fascinating talk (accompanied by an equally amazing slide show of his work) at the School of Visual Arts Theater in Chelsea in Manhattan on March 12, 2012. The talk was a look through LaChapelle’s life and career that lasted two hours. LaChapelle covered it all from working for Andy Warhol to his current home in Maui. I found LaChapelle to be extremely spiritual instead of religious as one would expect from the imagery that is seen throughout his work. He even said that he doesn’t know what the word “religion” means because (and I am paraphrasing here) once you start to define the infinite, the meaning is lost.
He also shared stories of some of his infamous celebrity photo shoots and without naming names, he said he has rarely come across someone famous that he’s photographed that he thought was truly happy. He also spoke of what it was like working with the likes of Britney Spears (though being in the position that so many people would die to be in, she wanted to be anywhere but in her own skin), Hilary Clinton (politicians are some of the most difficult people he’s worked with), Michael Jackson (who knew exactly what he wanted), 2Pac (who was down to earth and trusted LaChapelle’s artistic vision), Whitney Houston (who appeared to be controlled by Bobby Brown) and Michael Jordan (who had so many people in his entourage, his people ultimately put the kibosh on the photo shoot).
LaChapelle also talked about his stint in the fashion world, saying that he had to get out of that business because it was destroying everyone around him due to the pressures and control. As the free talk was primarily for the benefit of students, LaChapelle was sure to give advice he would have liked to have heard when he was at an impressionable age. He mentioned picking and choosing your battles, but to definitely stand up for yourself when you believe in something very strongly. LaChapelle also gave the advice to not give up and to pay attention to the subtle signs the universe provides you with constantly. He also talked about his inspirations to push the boundaries out further by trying to create images that he would want to look at.
The discussion concluded with work from LaChapelle’s latest exhibit “Earth Laughs In Flowers” which is showing at Fred Torres Collaborations in NYC through March 23, 2012.