Village Voice, 1984 

David LaChapelle's photographs of men - young men - have always struck me as a celebration - and one that I somewhat wistfully enjoy - of the charm and the posing self-consciousness of youthful masculinity.

The body almost never looks worked out. Still, it's never soft: always lean and tight, the kind of casual, confident torso only a college boy, one thinks, with good genes and high metabolism, could have. The stomach is taut, often more so because the model is stretching back or up - as if to show, with no real hauteur, just how casual and confident a young man's body can be. And there's often an impassive, not quite cocky, look on his face.

These are the pictures I've come to expect from LaChapelle, the kind he often publishes in Christopher Street and the Native. There are some like them in his show Good News for Modern Man. There are also surprises. If most of his men are rigid, statuesque, eminently physical, his female nudes are each an instant in a flowing vision. They are ethereal. Shot in soft focus and murky light, some appear suspended in dusky air, caught by the camera is if in flight. One, her arms gently lifted, arched, reaches toward what seems like a distant source of light that washes her: a baroque angel whom Milton might have seen rising from a mission to the lower, darker realms back to the spheres of heaven. Another, swaddled, sitting in the darkness, is pierced by a shaft of light that illuminates her face and draws her to itself. Her arms reach out, receive it willingly, as though she were a saint submitting to the visible signs of sainthood.

These women are otherworldly, unbound by human physicality and its attributes. They are not feminine. They are androgynes. In portraying his women free from this restraint, from this physical definition, LaChapelle reveals a talent we have not seen before. It is one that makes us curious about his men. How will LaChapelle's vision transform them from their masculinity?

By Darrel Yates Rist

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