March 31, 2011

David LaChapelle Photos Exhibition at Kestner, Hanover

Photo Exhibition: David LaChapelle 
Earth laughs in flowers 
Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover 
Through May 8, 2011

In the first institutional solo exhibition in Germany of work by the famous American photographer DAVID LACHAPELLE (b 1964), the Kestnergesellschaft presents a series of new photographs. The series Earth Laughs in Flowers, which was created this year, refers to art-historical visual traditions but never loses sight of LaChapelle’s own artistic language. 

David LaChapelle 
Decadence: the insufficiency of all things attainable 
Edition 5/7 
Digital C-Print on Corrugated Cardboard 
266.9 x 914.4 x 134.3 cm 
© David LaChapelle 
Courtesy Fred Torres Collaborations; Galerie Rafael Jablonka, Köln 

The large-format still lifes in this series, with titles such as The Lovers, Concerning the Soul, Risk, or  America, seamlessly take up the principle of exaggeration that characterized the portraits of celebrities like Madonna, Pamela Anderson, Michael Jackson, Björk or David Bowie through which David LaChapelle himself has become famous since the 1990s. The portraits always contained art-historical references, along with a fear of emptiness, a love of bad taste, an ugly beauty, but David LaChapelle’s recent works now show an explicit compositional affinity to Baroque floral still lifes (as we can see with the work Early Fall). Plants, fruits and objects, in place of human bodies, now bear witness to human pride, to the finiteness of life with its obsessions and compulsions, to pleasure and suffering. 

David LaChapelle 
Early Fall 
Chromogenic print 
190,5 x 127 cm 
© David LaChapelle 
Courtesy Fred Torres Collaborations; Galerie Rafael Jablonka, Köln 

The title of the exhibition can also be read in the sense of the vanitas portrayals of impermanence and futility: the quotation ‘Earth laughs in flowers’ comes from the poem ‘Hamatreya’ by Ralph Waldo Emerson in which flowers are the earth’s laughter at the arrogant attitude of human beings who believe they can own the earth, although they themselves are transient and must return to it. But the title also speaks of an affirmative and allencompassing attitude, as LaChapelle himself puts it and seeks to translate into his pop visual language. His works are intended to be inclusive and easy to understand, and they address a wide audience. 

This is achieved through strategies of heightened media staging – as in the portraits – but also through universal motifs that are culturally rooted – as in Jesus is My Homeboy (2003), which is also shown in the exhibition. In this series LaChapelle worked with people from the street to stage scenes from the life of Jesus that are astonishing in their true-to-life, contemporary realization. This series is complemented by two paintings from the State Gallery of the Lower Saxony State Museum. These two works, Christuskopf [Head of Christ] (1904) by Erich Brunkal and The Entombment of Christ, a copy after Raffael by Casabene, enable the new works by David LaChapelle to be compared with and referred to traditional Christian iconography. 

 David LaChapelle 
Intervention (from the series Jesus is My Homeboy
182.9 x 279.4 cm
© David LaChapelle
Courtesy Fred Torres Collaborations; Galerie Rafael Jablonka, Köln 

DAVID LACHAPELLE studied visual art at the North Carolina School of the Arts before moving to New York. There he studied at the Art Students League and the School of Visual Arts, and while still a student was invited by Andy Warhol to work for the magazine Interview. David LaChapelle has had solo exhibitions at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Kunst Haus Wien, the Fotografiska Museet Stockholm and elsewhere. His work has appeared in numerous group shows, for example at the Brooklyn Museum and the Helmut Newton Foundation.

Curator: Kristin Schrader

A catalogue in German and English was published in cooperation with DISTANZ-Verlag with  an introduction by Dr. Veit Görner and texts by Dr. Thomas Andratschke and Kristin Schrader. 38 Euros.

30159 Hanover