David LaChapelle: All of a Sudden

Photo of David LaChapelle

September 5 – December 15, 2024

Opening Reception: September 5, 5 – 7 pm

Artist David LaChapelle is one of the most frequently published photographers, best known for his large-scale, hyper-clear photographs of celebrities and for his iconic music videos (for Mariah Carey, Elton John, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, among others).

He was born in Hartford in 1963 and grew up in Simsbury and Farmington. He attended North Carolina School of the Arts where he developed an analogue technique by hand-painting his own negatives to achieve a sublime spectrum of color before processing his film. At age 17, LaChapelle moved to New York City where he was hired by Andy Warhol to work at Interview Magazine. His unconventional and often surreal portraits quickly earned him international interest.

Through his mastery of color, unique composition, and imaginative narratives, LaChapelle began to expand the genre of photography. His staged tableau, portrait and still life works challenged devices of traditional photography. By 1997, The New York Times predicted, “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.”

LaChapelle merges contemporary photography with art history. He references the work of Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keeffe as well as the Renaissance and Baroque masters in many of his photographs. Over 40 works by LaChapelle will be on view at the Benton Museum this fall.

LaChapelle’s anthology of books includes LaChapelle Land (1996), Hotel LaChapelle (1999), Heaven to Hell (2006), Lost & Found, and Good News (2017). Simultaneously, his work has expanded into music video, film, and stage projects. His 2005 feature film Rize was released  in 17 countries. Many of his still and film works have become iconic archetypes of America in the 21st Century.

In the fall of 2023, LaChapelle was honored with the “Lorenzo il Magnifico” Lifetime Achievement Award at the XIV Florence Biennale.