David LaChapelle bridges commercial, fashion and high art photography with his hyper-saturated, juicy images and his newest exhibition hits just in time for Valentine's Day.
Lit lovers might recognize the title of the exhibition, "Earth Laughs In Flowers," which takes its name from Ralph Waldo Emerson's poem "Hamatreya." In Emerson's work, flowers are amused by our arrogance for refusing to acknowledge our own mortality. To wit, "Earth laughs in flowers, to see her boastful boys / Earth-proud, proud of the earth which is not theirs..." We have a feeling these photos will make you look at those Valentine's Day bouquets a little differently, no?
Riffing off the artistic tradition of vanitas, works that remind viewers of fading beauty and lurking decay, LaChapelle combines the traditional motif of flowers with his personal dose of contemporary kitsch. Clunky cell phones, rotting watermelons, classical busts, severed limbs and teeny-bob shots of Robert Pattinson sit amidst the luscious floral arrangements.
With their fleshy and trendy adornments, LaChapelle's pieces remind us that everything eventually dies. The longer you look at the works, the more grotesque they become, rotting before your very eyes. Fads and candied thrills keep on shining as the petals begin to wilt, placing a literal death against a metaphorical irrelevance. Troll dolls and blood spattered goblets show decay isn't coming, it is here. No matter how ripe or juicy it may be, nothing is immortal ... except, perhaps, the art itself.
LaChapelle's exhibition will show at ROBILANT + VOENA in London until March 24. It will also show in Milan from February 16 to March 24 and in St. Moritz until February 26. LaChapelle's work will also be exhibited at Fred Torres Gallery in New York from February 23 to March 24.