Art | July 9, 2022 |

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Image courtesy of David Lachapelle and Jule Hering

David Lachapelle . I believe in miracles
Mudec, Milan
April 11 – September 11, 2022

The large-scale solo exhibition “David LaChapelle. I Believe in Miracles“, at the MUDEC in Milan from 22 April 2022, produced by 24 ORE Cultura – Gruppo 24 ORE and promoted by the Comune di Milano-Cultura, is the result of a journey of artistic research lasting a lifetime and that presents a previously unseen and, to some extent, surprising David LaChapelle. From his mentorship under Andy Warhol – in the New York of the ‘1980s, the world of popular culture – his multi-faceted artistic experience arrived in the galleries, to later culminate in a type of artistic photography that is one of a kind with an acute awareness of the time in which we live.

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Image courtesy of David Lachapelle and Jule Hering

Starting with his early works, the eyes of the public are opened for the first time ever at the Museum of Cultures to a previously unseen series of works that are part of the new and visionary phase of his output – the last, dated 2022 – the result of the powerful legacy of his lengthy artistic and human experience. With an unprecedented project, curated by Reiner Opoku and Denis Curti, in partnership with LaChapelle studio, the Museum of Cultures hosts an exhibition itinerary that critical look at the human soul with an investigation into its various facets of joy, pain, solitude, and passions, insecurities and ideals. Humankind and its relationship with itself, human beings in the surrounding environment and in society, and humankind in Nature. A very personal vision that Mudec has chosen to present by staging this retrospective of the artist, furthering anthropological reflection on the present.

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Image courtesy of David Lachapelle and Jule Hering

The exhibition includes over 90 works – including large formats, site-specific photos, new productions, and a video installation – which unfold in a flowing and captivating narrative, through the artist’s very personal vision of a ‘gestural’ kind of photography, that is a snapshot of the present while ‘alert’ for the future ahead. Quoting the words of the curators in the exhibition catalog, “David LaChapelle has been on this journey towards a deeper and more spiritual dimension since the 1980s and, throughout his career, he has always known how to renew himself through languages and liturgies, while maintaining a recognizable style. A trademark that has to do with a dreamlike and surreal dimension. (…) The exhibition route is deliberately nonlinear because the display refers to a continuous and coherent interweaving of interrelated themes. It is a continuous in and out of the contradictions of our existence: from the desired miracle to the darker mysteries of contemporaneity.”

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Image courtesy of David Lachapelle and Jule Hering

On the question of the title of the exhibition the two curators tell us, “LaChapelle invites us to create new relationships with people, with nature, with consumerism, and with spirituality. Another world is possible. David LaChapelle believes in miracles”. Starting with works that portray the vulnerability of the planet and the fragility of humankind, together with a repertoire that looks at pop culture and the star system of cinema, music, and art, the exhibition winds its way through images that reveal the artist’s vision for a new world. A world that seeks an uncontaminated and luxurious nature where everyone can experience spirituality, love, and beauty and where men and women can finally live liberated from alienation and in unity with the natural context.

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Image courtesy of David Lachapelle and Jule Hering

The exhibition itinerary is a personal journey steeped in memories and sentiment and purposely mixes the non-chronological order with the experiences of a professional and private life which, in the end, prove to be on the same level. Many of the works in the exhibition make reference to the artist’s most well-known series, such as the famous photos that made David LaChapelle a living icon in the world of pop culture. Superstars such as Madonna, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Kim Kardashian, David Hockney, Angelina Jolie, Elizabeth Taylor, Hillary Clinton, Muhammad Ali, Jeff Koons, Uma Thurman, and David Bowie have collaborated with him and LaChapelle carries with him this legacy that is an integral part of his artistic world.

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Image courtesy of David Lachapelle and Jule Hering

From the classic subjects in the history of art revisited with the aesthetic characteristics of his own vision comes the seminal work, Deluge (2006) and the following series After the Deluge (2006-2009), inspired by the Great Flood in the Sistine Chapel. In the Land Scape series (2013) LaChapelle invites the critical and conscious use of fossil resources and rejects anthropocentrism, reminding us that human survival cannot be separated from nature. The same direction is followed by Spree (2019-2020) a work that explores the conflictual relationship between nature, civilization, and ostentatious opulence.

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Image courtesy of David Lachapelle and Jule Hering

David LaChapelle constructed a 35-centimeter model of a cruise ship stranded in a sea of ice, to represent the relentless impact of the contemporary world and the future shock we are now experiencing. Revelations (2020), one of the artist’s latest series, is instead the story of a contemporary society distressed by uncertainty and instability, in a scenario where the Apocalypse manifests itself unleashing panic and desperation, but where nevertheless a small glimmer of light and hope remains.

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Image courtesy of David Lachapelle and Jule Hering

In New World (2007-2017) the desire for peace and purity is evident which becomes transformed into images: all the central figures are immortalized in the enchanting virgin rainforest and seem to be seeking new possibilities for interaction with nature and the surrounding world: a new way of connecting deeply with the spirit of nature and human beings now appears as a real possibility. In this totally new and original exhibition project many works take on a new light and greater awareness as if they were viewed retrospectively by the artist himself according to a renewed observation point. This can be said of the series of new photos, on show in an exhibition for the first time, following the challenging experience of the two-year pandemic and conceived of in the natural surroundings of Hawaiian forests, where LaChapelle has made his home. The photos interpret certain passages from the Bible and seem to signify a ‘change of pace’.

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Image courtesy of David Lachapelle and Jule Hering

His style gradually becomes more intimate and pensive. The settings relinquish, at least partially, the surreal dimension to descend into a more realistic atmosphere. The colors, less saturated compared to his previous works, invite us to go back in time to reflect on our values and on the need to see ourselves also in a miraculous new world. The exhibition catalog “David LaChapelle. I Believe in Miracles”, edited by 24 ORE Cultura is available in the exhibition bookshop, in bookshops, and online.

more. www.mudec.it

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Image courtesy of David Lachapelle and Jule Hering
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Image courtesy of David Lachapelle and Jule Hering
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Image courtesy of David Lachapelle and Jule Hering

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