At Forte Belvedere
Curated by Gianni Mercurio and Fred Torres
More than 100 large photos, ranging from celebrity portraits to deeply-felt recent studies, mark the reopening of Forte Belvedere to contemporary art
Following the anthological show in Milan's Palazzo Reale last autumn, and preceding the large show in Paris planned for next February in the Musée de la Monnaie, David LaChapelle, from 16 July to 19 October 2008, will be the guest artist in the wonderful setting of Forte Belvedere. Over 100 works have been chosen by the curators and the artist himself, in harmony with the rooms and atmosphere of what can be considered one of the world's most evocative exhibition spaces.
This Florentine exhibition has been originated and organised with the help of the Florence city council which has been sympathetic to the ideas of an artist who was struck by the magnificence of Forte Belvedere during a recent stay in the city.
Gianni Mercurio and Fred Torres, the curators, having continually reviewed the works, have now chosen the most meaningful and engrossing images created by the artist in over 15 years of activity, thus allowing us to follow a creative career that has undergone many deep changes.
The show, then, will be the opportunity to cast a new critical look at a vocation in which glamour is but one of the best-known and attractive aspects of his work. In fact the latest grand series such as Deluge, Awakened, Museum or Heaven to Hell will introduce the visitor to a new dimension of the artist's work, one aimed at investigating the material and spiritual destiny and the hopes for rebirth of humanity in decline.
By looking beyond the glossy aspect of the images we can see, even in the less recent photographs, clues to the artist's ability to create images that can be analysed at various levels.
This is evident in his famous portraits of international stars in which he pinpoints and pays tribute to their extravagances, perfections and defects, on occasion giving life to a genuine contemporary mythology; and it is also evident in those images which reflect the obsessions which nurture society: plastic surgery, sexual excess and transgressions, quirks of all kinds all of which are to be seen in the 12 sections into which the show is divided.
Above all the show has the advantage of making visible the complex work from which LaChapelle's photographs grew: all the cultural, literary, and artistic sources he makes use of are documented here, not only his extraordinary and intense relationship with the work of Michelangelo, but also a series of works in which he revisits and quotes in a personal way the art of the past, ranging from the Renaissance and the Middle Ages to Surrealism and Pop Art.
There will also be a film devoted to the preparation and realisation of Deluge and which shows its complex and sophisticated creation.
This event will be the occasion for getting to know one of the most creative personalities on the contemporary art scene; it is also part of a plan which, by increasing the cultural input of Forte Belvedere, the historical venue for great shows, will create an axis, together with other events in the Boboli gardens and in Villa Bardini, that this season will put Florence back at the heart of contemporary art in Italy.
The exhibition, curated by Gianni Mercurio and Fred Torres, is promoted by the Florence city government's cultural office and is organised and developed by Giunti Arte mostre musei, Alphaomega Art, and Fine Art Account.
The catalogue, in Italian and English, is published by Giunti Arte
192 full-colour pages
Essays by Gianni Mercurio and Fred Torres
Format 24 x 26.5 cm.
Over 150 illustrations
Cover price €30
Giunti Arte mostre musei press office
Ester Di Leo, Florence
Phone + 39.055.223907; cell +39.348.3366205
David LaChapelle – Biography
Born in Connecticut in 1963, in the 80s LaChapelle worked in Studio54 the most important New York discotheque; in that period Andy Warhol found him a job on the magazine Interview when LaChapelle was still only 18 years of age. His career really took off in the 90s: his photos were published in Paris Vogue, The Face, DETAILS, Vanity Fair, New York Times Magazine, and Vogue.
The first published collection of his photos, in 1997, won the Art Directors Award for best book and graphics. He had become the portraitist of show business stars: Leonardo DiCapro, Tricky, Marilyn Manson, Madonna, Uma Thurman, Elton John, Drew Barrymore, and many others. He created the advertising campaigns for Lavazza, L'Oreal, Iceberg, Mtv, and Diesel, and covers for Madonna, Elton John, Whitney Houston, Macy Gray, and Moby.
He has worked in the field of fashion with Jean Paul Gaultier and Armani for whom he also shot a short film Salvation Aramani. In 1995 he was recognised as the year's best photographer by the magazines Photo and American Photo. In 1998 the magazine Life bestowed the Alfred Eisenstein Award on him for "the most interesting photographic style". Today he is considered among the first ten photographers in the world. He has published numerous photographic books, among which are LaChapelle Land, 1996; Hotel LaChapelle, 1999; Artists and Prostitutes, 2006; Heaven to Hell, 2006.
In recent years his work has been acquired for the permanent holdings of various important international museums and collections. In Italy he has had a large solo show at Palazzo Reale, Milan, though his work had already been seen ten years earlier in the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome.
Gianni Mercurio has curated some of the most important monographic shows to be held in Italy over the past ten years. He lives in Rome. An expert in American art from the 60s until today, he has curated, among other exhibitions, the imposing trilogy Andy Warhol Show, Keith Haring Show, and Jean Michael Basquiat Show at the Milan Triennial. In 1996 he founded, and directed until 2001, the Chiostro Bramante in Rome. Currently he is responsible for the Carlo Bilotti museum in Rome, for which he recently mounted the shows Damien Hirst/Jenny Saville/David Salle e Willem de Kooning and Big Bang. Together with Demetrio Paparoni he has curated the show Eretica, in the Palermo gallery of modern art, and Timer 01 Intimacy at the Milan Triennale Bovisa.
Fred Torres, the co-curator of this show, has worked with David LaChapelle for fifteen years. After starting out as the executive producer for the artist's photographs, Torres now curates and promotes the art of LaChapelle throughout the world.