Although known for his fashion photography, David LaChapelle is trying something new for him, but old in the way of art. His exhibit, “Earth Laughs in Flowers,” just opened last night at a gallery on West 29th Street in Manhattan and it’s definitely something that one just passing by would never equate to LaChapelle and his more commercial work.
The 72-inch tall photographs of “traditional Baroque still life paintings,” give a new spin on what would be considered a flat and relatively mute work of art. Still life projects have long been a staple in the art world, but LaChapelle takes his photographs to a new extreme as he contrasts the old with the new by adding New York Post headlines, sex toys and Barbies with apples for heads to the mix. His flowers are not always perky either, with some in varies stages of demise, combined with ornaments that reflect the complicated and often destructive society in which we live. As LaChapelle told WWD:
“Symbolic items were typically placed in these paintings to tell a story. Symbolism has become less important because everything will be thrown away these days. It used to be that a quill would be shown as a letter of communication to a lover, a glass of water could mean purity. So we did the modern equivalent.”
Although still shooting fashion related projects, most notably his newest campaign for MAC Cosmetics that features Nicki Minaj and Ricky Martin, LaChapelle admits that he’s sort of over the fashion world. “I don’t miss it at all,” he said. “Now I’m into The Week and National Geographic.”
After two decades in the business, LaChapelle is at a point where he can pick and choose what projects he wants while making time for other avenues of art. This series may be a far cry from his flashy shoots that are intense with color, pazazz and models ripped from fashion magazines, but it’s more thought-provoking and a gorgeous analysis on our culture. Sometimes we need to take a step back from the bright lights to see just how fragile we all are, and that’s what LaChapelle does with “Earth Laughs in Flowers.”