Digital c print photograph on paper
Museum by David LaChapelle
Museum by David LaChapelle marks the artist’s transition from commercial photography and return to his roots of fine art photography.
Museum by David LaChapelle from the Deluge series juxtaposes contrasting concepts through its visual representation: hope and despair, growth and devastation, renewal and degeneration. LaChapelle has created an uncommon combination, surprisingly mixing familiar symbols with anonymous models, creating oxymoronic pictures of the beauty of destruction and the glamour of disaster.
Museum is laden with symbols and metaphors—from devout Christian iconography through the blunt pornography of overdoses and street gangs. LaChapelle takes the photographed image to the extreme of a blunt cliché, which almost collapses into a perfect grotesque due to the redundant color and exaggerated processing; surprisingly, beyond the excess, human gestures and unexpected vulnerability are revealed.
The criticism of some of the values consecrated in contemporary society—the addiction to fast food, the worship of anorexic models of beauty, and their destructive encounter—are conveyed via references to Pop and Surrealism, rather than by means of the original. LaChapelle, as an important documenter of Pop culture infuses universal values of religion and morality with entirely new meanings.
Cathedral from the Deluge series is about the craziness of being faced with danger, with imminent death, when every material thing is taken away. You have to find some sort of enlightenment when everything you value suddenly becomes worthless. Michelangelo’s Deluge in the Sistine Chapel shows humanity at its best, people helping each other. With Michelangelo we have the idea that physical perfection equals divinity. When LaChapelle put out an ad on Craigslist enlisting Angelinos to pose for his photographs, the artist quickly realized that what worked for Michelangelo wasn’t going to apply in the same way to contemporary photography. A subject in a photograph just means something completely different than a subject in a painting.