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David LaChapelle

make Believe

A photographic artwork of two nude men artistically posed on a blue sphere, with a vibrant sky in the background

Enter the world of David LaChapelle at his first major museum solo exhibition in North America and our first building-wide show. LaChapelle’s iconic images have established him as one of the most influential artists of our time. With over 150 works, the collection blurs reality and fantasy, highlighting the artists’ most iconic works while also presenting new creations for the very first time.

A photo of a woman laying down beneath a large blow-up cheeseburger
A photograph of a man covered in blue paint, wearing a purple flower crown that exudes light beams


The Takeover

In make Believe, poignant visual explorations dialogue with intergenerational icons of visual culture: the last-ever portraits of Andy Warhol (1986) and Michael Jackson (2009); intimate 1990s photos of Tupac, David Bowie, Madonna, and Britney Spears; illustrious fashion campaigns featuring Naomi Campbell (and a rare 1996 portrait of Alexander McQueen in drag); and electrifying portraiture of today’s most talked-about names, like Lizzo, Travis Scott, and Kim Kardashian. In addition to its thematic breadth, make Believe demonstrates the evolution of LaChapelle’s visionary technical approach to the photography medium, with manual compositional manipulation including hand-painted negatives and proprietary analog splicing methods.

A photograph of a nude woman covered in Louis Vuitton logomarks


David LaChapelle was born in Connecticut in 1963 and attended high school at North Carolina School of The Arts. Originally enrolled as a painter, 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. Following his first photography show at Gallery 303, he was hired by Andy Warhol to work at Interview Magazine.

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 and his work quickly gained international interest. By 1991, 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.”

In the decades since, LaChapelle has become one of the most published photographers throughout the world with an anthology of books including 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 theatrically in 17 countries. Many of his still and film works have become iconic archetypes of America in the 21st Century.