David LaChapelle: Vice and Virtue
Contemporary photographer David LaChapelle creates a dichotomy between contemporary, everyday situations with older, religious influences through his photography. He plays on the themes that derive from classical Renaissance artworks, creating an unexpected mix of old and new. The combination of classic and contemporary themes is prevalent in both his Deluge series and Jesus is My Homeboy series, which explore the recreation of classical stories.
LaChapelle works with celebrities and other icons because of their detachment from society, indicating a sense of invincibility, yet illness at the same time. He captures scenes that portray these individuals as godlike and distant, mirroring the celebrity culture of today. This idea is seen in Heaven to Hell (Courtney Love), where she is portrayed in a moment of love and death, which is a human experience.
In Deluge, David LaChapelle uses Michelangelo’s Deluge in the Sistine Chapel as the inspiration of this work. The piece represents the ever-growing attraction and need for material goods and the decline of common values – kindness, empathy. Viewers are struck by the juxtaposition of the increasing need of material goods and the decline of the state of human life. Despite the dark and sober tone of the artwork, the people are helping each other out, regardless of the surrounding situation.