Venetian Cat April 12, 2017

Fallen Angels Unite! Celeb Photographer David LaChapelle Comes out of the Forest - Lost+Found at Tre Oci in Venice

By Cat Bauer

(Venice, Italy) When David LaChapelle was a toddler, his glamorous, free-thinking mother dressed him up with paper angel wings. A Lithuanian immigrant, she worked as a waitress and factory employee, but had the soul of an artist, and saw God in Nature. His father was a man of the Church. Put those two together, and you get David LaChapelle, the brilliant photographer who has emerged from the forest in Maui to bring his New World to Venice.

Before the opening yesterday at Casa dei Tre Oci, LaChapelle spoke to a packed auditorium of enraptured art and photography students at Ca' Foscari University on Monday about the journey his life has taken. He started painting and drawing as a child. He dropped out of school at age 15 and moved to New York City, went to art school in North Carolina, became hooked on photography, and never went back to painting and drawing. He told the students that he had limited means in the beginning, and used what he could afford: a small camera and natural lighting, with friends who posed as subjects.

He moved back to New York City and lived in the East Village in the early 80s, which he said was Paradise. At that time, I lived in the West Village, and I can attest that it was Paradise, too. The Village was pulsing with exciting energy, crammed full of artists, actors, musicians, poets -- every color of sexuality and nationality -- everyone was there, and free to create. It was a magical time.

Then AIDS struck and Paradise became the Inferno. Many vibrant friends withered and died. LaChapelle's boyfriend died, and he thought he would die, too. So he turned toward metaphysics to make sense of it, and started creating images to share before he died -- not for money, but to leave something behind. Then Andy Warhol asked him to work for Interview, and flipped his life around. Since people weren't buying his photos, it allowed him to earn money doing something he loved.

After working for 30 years with different magazines and photographing some of the most important celebrities on the planet, LaChapelle began to question consumerism and capitalism. He moved to a forest in Maui, and went back to doing analog photography and painting on negatives; he did not use a computer.

He told the students that he always followed his intuition, and that artists are unplanned, not like, say, lawyers, who go to school, get a degree, and practice law, with set rules. He said photography stops time. These days, the world feels faster with all our technical devices, and that it is important to make a place to find your own voice, and listen to your own heart and intuition away from the world that drowns it out.

He said, "To this day, if I do an ad, I use that money to fund myself. I am not a slave to the Art World, I am free. I am my own benefactor. I don't worry about getting hired. I want to say something that matters."

I was incredibly moved by the new photos. There is such a feeling of joy, hope, and spirituality mixed with humor, sexuality and love. LaChapelle came to Venice with his friend, Pamela Anderson, who has become more fascinating as she approaches her 50th birthday on July 1st, toning down her look, and cultivating a relationship with Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange.

LaChapelle said he was trying to bring some real beauty to the world, and touch people much like music does. With Lost+Found at the Casa dei Tre Oci, David LaChapelle has achieved his goal.

Lost+Found is at the Casa dei Tre Oci from April 12 to September 10, 2017.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Jon Steinbacher, an angel that left this planet far too soon.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

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