David LaChapelle’s photography has been heralded as some of the most influential and subversive works of the 21st century tackling the themes of salvation, redemption, paradise and consumerism. One of his most renowned series is American Jesus, a series in which he draws on a mass of art historical references, Catholic symbolism and modern day icons in order to create highly surrealist narratives and resonant content.
One of David’s most notorious series American Jesus took over a decade to complete and has some of his most famous works. One of which is a triptych of Pop King Michael Jackson, depicting Michael as a modern day Martyr. In ‘Archangel Michael’, the second of the three photographs, a crest fallen but empowered Jackson is stood on a rocky outcrop single handedly defeating The Devil; a surrendered sword lies glimmering on the rocks below him as Archangel Michael gazes solemnly to one side, white feathered wings strapped to his back, and holy tears dripping from his remorseful eyes.
Jackson was the subject of several of LaChappele’s projects since the 1998 cover of Flaunt, however in this work LaChappele relied on a doppelgänger and post production techniques to depict Michael. David developed an understanding and sympathy for the once loved and now demonised icon and in ‘American Jesus’ attempts to introduce us to a softer and more heroic side to the publicly shamed Jackson, this was the last project David used Michael as a subject in before his untimely death bringing added gravitas and an eerie tone to the triptych.
This month Mayfair has been showered with the electric works of David LaChapelle, the first being at our Shepherd Market gallery which is hanging ‘Archangel Michael’ in our latest group show Down the Rabbit Hole, and the second just round the corner at Phillips Auction House as part of their upcoming 20th Century and Contemporary Art auction set to go on sale at the end of this week.
We also have two fantastic Taschen books (Part I & Part II) of LaChapelle’s long-awaited and final publications to complete his career spanning anthology.