7 David LaChapelle Photographs That Reframe Religious Imagery

7 David LaChapelle Photographs That Reframe Religious Imagery

Elyssa Goodman for Artnet - 5 December 2018

Though David LaChapelle became known for his splashy, high-concept images of celebrities—from musician Elton John atop a leopard-print piano to supermodel Naomi Campbell in the buff, pouring milk on herself—an undercurrent of religious and art historical references have always run through his imagery. He is never too far from composing a pietà or casting his own personal Jesus, retelling these age-old stories with the ecstatic splendor that only LaChapelle can conjure, with Courtney Love or Lil’ Kim as the Virgin Mary and Tupac Shakur or Kanye West as the holy son.

Even now, as the artist veers away from commercial work, he continues to draw inspiration from religion and the works of the Old Masters, while also unraveling his own interior life. LaChapelle’s most recent monographs, 2017’s Lost + Found(Part I) and Good News (Part II)—which he has said are quite possibly his final volumes—particularly feature these themes. Here, we explore the iconography of LaChapelle’s work throughout the years.

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David LaChapelle - Nativity (2012)