Earth CelebrAction: David LaChapelle’s shoots for Lavazza 2020 Calendar form a visual symphony of classical elements
Chennai, December 18: David LaChapelle’s photographs for the new Lavazza 2020 Calendar form a visual symphony of the classical elements, a hymn to the newfound relationship tying Man to Nature. Beauty once again serves to reveal the world.
Poetry is the key to David LaChapelle’s new photos for the Lavazza 2020 Calendar. A master of photography and one of the most important authors on the contemporary scene, LaChapelle puts his signature to a new experiment in art photography and another chapter in the history of the Calendar, which has been promoting the identity of one of the world’s best-loved Italian brands since 1993.
The US photographer is working with Lavazza for the third time and does so by telling a story in images of the beauty of Nature, designed and created by advertising agency Armando Testa.
A pupil of Andy Warhol and high priest of the scintillating glamour of the '90s and its celebrity cult, LaChapelle has in the last few years been shifting his focus to environmental issues and turning his hand to landscape photography. This has in no way diluted the dazzling aesthetic that has always characterised his unmistakable style.
For 2020, the Company has chosen to pay homage to Nature with Earth CelebrAction, a project that seeks to celebrate the power of beauty harnessed to the idea of action, of every one of us being able to act personally to defend the environment.
LaChapelle has explored this theme by offering up a symbolic story in which the classical elements – fire, water, earth and air – come together in the presence of Man in enthralling natural scenarios.
The twelve months of the year are a hymn to life and the transformational power of beauty capable of awakening and illuminating people, making them aware of the deep relationship binding human beings to the environment that surrounds them and highlighting the reciprocity of all living things.
Twelve months that gather the thoughts expounded in Earth CelebrAction’s manifesto and the idea of opening up to the Earth: fully appreciating its importance, listening to its needs, respecting it as our Mother and taking care of it to take care of ourselves. In short: reconnecting to Earth.
“We saw David LaChapelle’s evolution towards the issues of sustainability and environmental protection running parallel to the evolution of our Calendar,” explains Lavazza Group Board Member Francesca Lavazza.
"The 2020 edition, entitled Earth CelebraAction, is an invitation to everyone to pay homage to the beauty of Nature and to take care of it. Embracing, protecting, sheltering. Just as the Earth is Place and Mother, we too must protect Her and take care of those who inhabited it."
"The images created by LaChapelle represent through their aesthetic force the will to use art as an instrument for building a new relationship between the Earth and us human beings. The Calendar continues to be an ideal instrument for stimulating a critical focus on the present and using art and beauty to engage and inspire. Because for us, taking care of Nature is an art."
The photographer’s choice was also explained by Armando Testa Creative Director, Michele Mariani: "The creative genesis of the Calendar each year is an exciting challenge. This year we wanted to talk about sustainability but using a different style from reportage."
"And most importantly we wanted to produce a Calendar with strong, memorable and visionary photos. That was why LaChapelle came so easily to mind."
"David had already spent time in Lavazza’s artistic family and over the years we’ve been following the evolution of his career very carefully. He made Nature and the environment his central inspiration and, even though we knew how he worked, he surprised us again with his richly imaginative universe, fertile inspirations and obsession with detail."
On his part, David LaChapelle commented on his work with Lavazza as follows: "Working on the production of Lavazza’s 'Earth CelebrAction' Calendar was an ideal opportunity to pursue my imaginary journey through an idyllic paradise where man and nature coexist in harmony."
"I’m grateful for the total freedom of expression granted to me by a company I respect, and which respects the planet. And lastly, I’m happy to have created images that I’m fully satisfied with”.
The 2020 Calendar reflects Lavazza’s focus on the issues of sustainability and the future of the planet, treated here in a poetic study of beauty and an attempt to rediscover connection with the environment.
This began in 2015 with the trilogy dedicated to the Earth Defenders by Steve McCurry, Joey Lawrence and Denis Rouvre, great photographers whose humanity and empathy enabled them to portray so unforgettably the faces of the people who protect their land every day.
The search for positive stories capable of illustrating an ecosystem that’s fragile but at the same time charged with potent vital energy continued with Platon, who in 2018 dedicated a project - 2030: What are you doing? - to the 17 Sustainable Goals promoted by the UN.
While 2019 was the year of Ami Vitale, a former National Geographic Magazine photographer and one of the most important contemporary photo-reporters: her calendar documented six art projects centring on Nature, in Thailand, Morocco, Switzerland, Colombia, Kenya and Belgium.
The photographs in LaChapelle’s project, on the other hand, were produced in Hawaii, where the artist has for some years been living on an eco-sustainable farm.
It was here that he became interested in landscape photography and strongly focused on the environment. A vision in line with that of the Brand and which invites us to look at Earth as a place to care for and protect, whilst safeguarding its beauty.
Amongst the stars of contemporary photography, David LaChapelle is the one who has embodied the post-pop spirit and irreverently and ironically revealed the world at the turn of the new millennium.
Now he’s back with Lavazza for the 2020 Calendar to celebrate the beauty that springs from harmony with the Earth.
Cheeky, baroque, Fellinian, surreal: David LaChapelle is one of the photographers who has most effectively captured the excesses and allure of pop culture, oscillating between attraction and repulsion, hedonism and disenchanted irony.
Behind all the gloss of his images – portraits of fashion, cinema and show-biz stars – lurks an artist of formidable technical talent, capable, like few others, of constructing a personal aesthetic and translating the sentiment of an epoch into photographs that have shaped the imagination of a whole generation.
Born in Connecticut in 1963, David LaChapelle is a sophisticated artist who plays with kitsch and quotes to create a personal Olympus inhabited by beings midway between reality and fantasy.
Photographer and film director, he studied at the North Carolina School of The Arts and then at the New York School of The Arts. In 1980, when still only 17, he was discovered by Andy Warhol, father of Pop Art and high priest of the Factory in New York, a figure he admired and who offered him his first paid job.
He made his name with portraits of celebrities, whom he represented by revisiting sacred iconography, thus scandalising the more moderate public and winning over the worlds of art and fashion, who fell in love with the enfant terrible and his brazen aesthetic.
LaChapelle’s work blended classical elements and allusions to the ultra-contemporary, nodding to Andy Warhol and Robert Mapplethorpe, to produce a colourful and appropriative container - seductive and hyperbolic – that faithfully reflected the aspirations and desires animating the decades around the turn of the new millennium.
He was adored by advertising and his hyper-realistic style (and saturated colours) bewitched everyone, including the stars who queued up to have their portraits taken through his lens and who became his muses.
Meanwhile, top magazines fought one another to secure work by the “bad boy” of American photography.
With fame came also the first collaboration with Lavazza, in 2002, when he was invited to produce the Espresso & Fun Calendar.
It was the first time the Brand had decided to abandon the black & white that had characterised all the calendars up to then, and switch to colour, turning the project into an international campaign.
It set LaChapelle the task of celebrating coffee come as if it were a star. The photographer put together a visual story centreing on the bright and vibrant colours of indigo and fuchsia and animated by a playful eroticism combining the seduction intrinsic to the ritual of coffee with a personal revisiting of West Coast imagery.
Not content with photography though, LaChapelle was at the same time directing music videos and documentaries. Elton John, Moby, Cristina Aguilera, No Doubt and Robbie Williams are just some of the artists who called on him to direct their videos.
In 2005, he shot Rize, which revels in the “krumping” scene in Los Angeles and the dynamic dance subculture in its South-Central suburb. This documentary was acclaimed at the Sundance Film Festival, the Mecca of American alternative cinema.
Awards and exhibitions followed until 2006, when LaChapelle, on a visit to Rome, was stunned by Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel and decided on a radical change of direction in his career.
He gradually withdrew from fashion to devote himself exclusively to art. This new chapter in LaChapelle’s development coincided with his move to Hawaii.
The blossoming of a new sensibility was marked by the image produced for The Lavazzers, the project celebrating the calendar’s 20th anniversary.
This was 2012 and Lavazza commissioned twelve top photographers to produce an image for each month of the year. LaChapelle came up with a portrait of himself on a bed in the middle of a forest, a cup of coffee in his hand and a leopard beside him.
This highly oneiric image seems suspended between the world celebrated by the artist up to that point – the glossy, glittering LA jet set – and a more mysterious, almost primordial dimension that seemed irresistibly attractive to him.
That voice was soon to drive him to abandon the gilded stage of California and its stars and move to Maui in search of a different, more meditative rhythm of life.
The subjects of his photography changed too, now embracing landscapes, the natural elements and Man’s relationships with his surroundings.
Earth CelebrAction, the title of Lavazza’s 2020 Calendar, which was shot in Hawaii, expresses all the enchantment on rediscovering a relationship with the environment and a desire to celebrate the marvels of nature through an act of understanding the photographer recommends to all of us.
By choosing to portray its beauty, to remind us that every human being is part of a delicate and magnificent equilibrium that each of us has the task of preserving.
THE LAVAZZA 2020 CALENDAR
We celebrate the Earth, because it’s thanks to her that we exist.
We listen to her, to come to her aid.
We realise how important she is, to be important for her.
We defend her, from ourselves first and foremost.
We care for her, because her health is our health.
We sustain her, by striving to reduce every impact.
We honour her, because she has given us everything and asked for nothing.
We nourish her, to watch her grow again.
We reconnect with her, to experience what she experiences.
We breathe her, because she is life.
We respect her, because she is our Mother.
We will change her, if we change ourselves.