1 Fall/Winter 2013 Eccentric... US $13.50 FR 8.00 IT 8.00 UK 7.00 Display until January 31 st ECCEN LIV TYLER BY HELENA CHRISTENSEN T R I C
2 PHOTOGR APHY Before the singularly eccentric pop conceptualist was chronicling the stars of the noughties and aughties on the covers of Vogue and Vanity Fair, a young 21-year-old David LaChapelle was shooting friends and strangers found on the streets of New York and showing his photographs in upstart galleries downtown. Here we ve collected a selection of these early works from the 1980s and made them glossy for the first time. unpublished. Words Kevin McGarry Photography David LaChapelle Thanks to Reynaldo Davis Carter & Fred Torres Collaborations It s impossible to think of fashion and celebrity portraiture today without thinking of the provocative and often-polarizing work of David LaChapelle the stagey, high-voltage bleached and tinted erotics, the religious overtones, a hybrid of cartoon and confessional even if in the past half-decade he has withdrawn from magazines to focus on making art, with five solo museum exhibitions in the last year alone. And not everyone knows that art is where LaChapelle got his start, when as a 17-year-old high school dropout he enrolled at the North Carolina School of the Arts, finished his secondary education and high-tailed it to Manhattan. When I came to New York, I knew I had to make my own kind of work, he remembers and these images you see here represent the very beginnings of that. These were analog photographs enhanced by manipulating negatives and hours spent printing in the dark room. I refer to this time as the dark ages of my life: I was either in a nightclub, in the dark room or shooting. In 1984, LaChapelle was 21 and the city was a gritty, open field for opportunity. He met Lisa Spellman as an aspiring gallerist (30 years later, she is a venerable Chelsea institution) and they put on a show of his black and white photographs titled Good News for Modern Man as the inaugural exhibition at her gallery's eponymous first home in her loft at 303 Park Avenue South. We didn t know that you had to wait a year before you had another show so they didn t: five months later, 303 Gallery presented another series by LaChapelle called Angels, Saints and Martyrs. After a stint in London, LaChapelle returned to New York and in 1988 did a show of color photographs called Your Needs Met at 56 Bleecker Gallery. There s a lot of sincerity and intention going into these pictures, there s nothing ironic about them. When I was making them I never had any aspirations to be rich or famous or anything. I just wanted to share these pictures with people and touch them, I wanted to share images that I loved. By the end of that decade he was reaching people alright, working on an increasingly ambitious scale and creating some of the iconic images whose stylistic roots can be traced throughout these pages. The 80s were the best of times and the worst of times. So much creative energy going on in the East Village, so much happening gallery shows, music, dancing, clubs all under this cloud of AIDS, watching young friends die, not knowing if I would be next. Yet, there was so much camaraderie among artists, causing explosions of artistic expression all concentrated in one neighborhood, in one time. It informed everything I believe today and made me who I am. Angels Saint and Martyrs IV (1984) Here depicted is the process of Transfiguration; that is, when light eclipses the dark within all of us. Radiant light emanates and darkness is expelled. Following, LaChapelle describes, in his own words, the inspiration behind these unpublished early images from Good News for Modern Man, Angels, Saints and Martyrs and Your Needs Met. SILENCE (1987) A few can touch the magic string, and noisy fame is proud to win them: Alas for those that never sing, but die with all their music in them! Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote this in his poem The Voiceless in I felt a resonance when so many young friends started dying of AIDS. 58 Vs.
3 SPIRITUAL POEMS (1989) This one represents a longing to understand our purpose. ANGELS, SAINTS AND MARTYRS II (1984) This is a study of the Pietà. I have photographed many different versions of the Pietà, yet this one with a simple open hand of Mary, seems to ask, Why? For me the Pietà is the symbol of ultimate loss: a mother s loss of her child. 60 Vs. 61 Vs.
4 SONG (1989) I was inspired by nothing more than the desire to express one s self and the attempt to make music visual. I used photographic dyes, tiny brushes and a magnifying glass to hand-paint 35mm negatives, enhancing the colors to achieve the intensity I wanted. LovE UNDERSTOOD (1989) I don t understand the focus on sexuality, one of life s most beautiful gifts, turned into this act with so many ideas of sin attached to it. The three snakes represent guilt, shame, and judgment. I believe the ultimate expression of love is intense human connection in any form. 62 Vs. 63 Vs.
5 GOOD NEWS FOR MODERN MAN III (1984) In this work from my very first gallery show, light being received by arms raised upward represents a moment of divine truth. Enlightenment, however brief, is here depicted. I used bleach on black and white images to create the halos. the birth of adam (1984) Adam was actually the name of the model, a modern dancer I was in love with I never told him that. He wore glasses and dressed a little nerdy, but when he removed his clothes it was like Michelangelo s Dying Slave came to life. I hear he s married now to a really nice guy. 64 Vs. 65 Vs.