David LaChapelle is a heavyweight champion of contemporary photography. Discovered by Andy Warhol when he was just 17 years old, the Pittsburgh native got his first job as a photographer working for Interview Magazine.
Following the debut of his surreal and subversive work, LaChapelle’s pictures gained attention worldwide; magazines like Rolling Stone, GQ, Vanity Fair, and French and Italian Vogue all featured his work — helping to catapult the young artist to success. Now, more than three decades into his career, it would appear that LaChapelle is still following the advice Warhol is thought to have given him when he first started: “Do whatever you want. Just make sure everybody looks good.”
LaChapelle is well known for exposing the outrageous and the absurd — whether it’s history, human behavior, fame, or the industry — he uses his photography as a magnifying glass. In his work at the Usina del Arte, LaChapelle zooms in on subjects like Big Oil, and examines the petroleum industry’s impact on the environment with a critical eye. Miniature gas stations are juxtaposed against jungles, the original source of modern day fossil fuels. LaChapelle also focuses on the consequences of global pollution, simultaneously exploring the idea of Earth as heaven in works like ‘Redeeming Paradise.’
In addition to his work addressing concerns related to the environment, LaChapelle is extremely well known for photographing some of the biggest names of our times — he has done portraits of celebrities like Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, David Bowie and Eminem. All of the above are featured in his exhibit at the Usina del Arte, in addition to portraits of several select others.
A haunting specimen of ‘still life,’ is also well worth seeing; personalities like Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher appear dismembered or broken up. The vulnerability of the ‘ceramic’ men and women in these photos shines a spotlight on the fragility of the human condition — another recurring theme that crops up in LaChapelle’s work.
LaChapelle’s exhibit will be on display from now to the 30th of December.
Tuesdays – Thursdays from 2 – 7:00 PM.
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12 – 9 PM.
La Usina del Arte (Caffarena 1)
Admission is free — each person can get up to two tickets.