XIV FLORENCE BIENNALE: The Lorenzo il Magnifico Lifetime Achievement Award to the American artist David LaChapelle
The world-renowned American photographer and filmmaker David LaChapelle is the first name among the Lifetime Achievement Award Winners of the "XIV Florence Biennale. International Exhibition of Contemporary Art and Design" that will take place at the Fortezza da Basso in Florence from 14 to 22 October 2023.
The artist will be awarded the 'Lorenzo il Magnifico' Lifetime Achievement Award with the following motivation: “The prize would be our tribute to one of the most talented and influential photographers of our times, and a recognition of your unique style and your outstanding artistic production, based on imagination, experimentation, and creativity, which conveys profound social messages. Through your visionary, original, and courageous perspective, you inspired many other artists and the global audience.”
On the occasion of the XIV Florence Biennale, themed I Am You - Individual and Collective Identities in Contemporary Art and Design, as Guest of Honour LaChapelle will exhibit a series of works created between 2009 and 2023, including the work Gated Community previewed at the solo exhibition ‘David LaChapelle for Giacomo Ceruti. Nomad in a Beautiful Land' currently on display at the Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo in Brescia. Moreover, during his award ceremony at the XIV Florence Biennale, scheduled for 17 October and open to the public, the artist will give a speech that already has great expectations.
An absolute pop culture icon, with his work LaChapellehas immortalised some of the most famous personalities of modern times, including Elton John, Dua Lipa, Michael Jackson, Eminem, Whitney Houston, Muhammad Ali, David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, Cher, Travis Scott, Leonardo Di Caprio, Tupac Shakur, Britney Spears, Naomi Campbell - to name just a few. In his complex, surreal settings, where there is no lack of provocation as well as references to classical art, spirituality and worldliness, eros and nature, glitz and humour converge, bringing a new photographic language and a new art form to life.
Born in Connecticut in 1963, David LaChapelle attended high school at the North Carolina School of The Arts. Originally enrolled as a painter, he developed an analogue technique of hand-painting his negatives to achieve a sublime spectrum of colours before processing his film. At the age of 17, LaChapelle moved to New York. Following his first photo exhibition at Gallery 303, he was hired by Andy Warhol to work at Interview Magazine. Through his mastery of colour, unique compositions and imaginative narratives, LaChapellebegan to expand the genre of photography. His staged tableau, portraits and still lifes challenged the canons of traditional photography and his work quickly gained international interest to the point that in the pages of the New York Times as early as 1991 it was stated that “LaChapelle is certain to influence the work of a new generation...in the same way that Mr. Avedon pioneered so much of what is familiar today.” And so it was.
In the following decades, LaChapellebecame one of the most published photographers in the world, with a series of successful books including LaChapelle Land (1996), Hotel LaChapelle (1999), Heaven to Hell (2006), Lost & Found and Good News (2017). Simultaneously, his work has extended to music videos, films and stage projects. His 2005 feature film Rize was released theatrically in 17 countries and many of his still and film works have become characteristic of America in the 21st Century. In the past 30 years, LaChapellehas exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world, including the National Portrait Gallery (London), the Musée de Monnaie (Paris), the Barbican Centre (London), the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (Israel), the Musée D'Orsay (Paris), the Groninger Museum (Netherlands), Palazzo delle Esposizioni (Rome), Palazzo Reale (Milan), the National Portrait Gallery (Washington D. C.), Casa dei Tre Oci (Venice), La Venaria Reale (Turin), MUDEC (Milan), Fotografiska (New York) and Salone degli Incanti (Trieste). Among David LaChapelle's works in Florence, we would like to mention the beautiful solo exhibition that was hosted at Forte Belvedere in 2008 and the recent participation in the group show dedicated to 'The Pinocchio Enigma' at Villa Bardini, between 2019 and 2020.