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David LaChapelle: ‘I’ve never seen what I do as objectification’

By Veronica Esposito

06 Sep 2022 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

The photographer is famed for his hyperreal portraits of celebrities, including that infamous Rolling Stone shoot with a young Britney Spears holding a teletubby. His retrospective opens this week.

Photographer David LaChapelle – best known for his hyperreal, surrealistic portraits of pop stars – has come full circle. Running away from the bullying he received as a queer teenager in his native Connecticut, LaChapelle found an artistic path forward in 80s New York City, becoming an acolyte of Andy Warhol. Following in the footsteps of his mentor, he went on to build an artistic career obsessed with the mysterious juncture of consumerism and celebrity. In so doing, he’s worked with seemingly everyone, from Tupac Shakur and Madonna to Kim and Kanye, Lizzo, and Travis Scott.

Just as LaChapelle made it to the pulsing heart of our frenzied celebrity culture, racking up a Rolling Stone cover, being feted by Jay-Z on the track All the Way Up, and even shooting Kim Kardashian’s Christmas card, he experienced a kind of spiritual rebirth: he retreated from the limelight to settle in Hawaii, where he started over and created a life far away from the media industrial complex that had defined his career. But now he is making a grand return to the city that started it all, with a monumental solo show at Fotografiska New York’s six-storey home, the first time this venue has been taken over by a single artist.

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