David LaChapelle on Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and ‘The Dark Ages’

Warhol by LaChapelle 3mb

Warhol by LaChapelle

“They wrote about Basquiat when he was 25 that he was finished, his career was done, over, and at 27 he was dead. He didn’t know that that would pass. They told him that the paintings he and Andy did together were horrible. Now people make fortunes out of it, they never met him and they make millions out of it.”

Excerpt from Alain Elkann Inteviews David LaChapelle

Basquiat and Warhol were your friends. Were they like you?

No, I love them but we are different. Keith Haring was different. Those guys were the geniuses of our time.

Were they in the stockbroker art system?

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Towards the end of Jean Michel’s and Andy’s life they were has-beens, they were written off by collectors and people on the street. In New York City they were considered over, finished, by critics and people. The New York Times, they wrote about Basquiat when he was 25 that he was finished, his career was done, over, and at 27 he was dead. He didn’t know that that would pass. They told him that the paintings he and Andy did together were horrible. Now people make fortunes out of it, they never met him and they make millions out of it. Andy and Jean Michel had a real friendship and when they made paintings together it ruined their friendship. They were embarrassed to be seen together after such harsh criticism. It was so brutal. They wrote so horribly about them in the New York Times it was like they had committed a crime.

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All that you are talking about, did it not happen before in Art? Caravaggio? Now he is a genius. Is this not the story of an artist?

Jean Michel for me is the new Van Gogh. They have romanticised his life. These billionaires are so horny for Jean-Michel because his life story has become almost as looked at as the work itself. They identify with his suffering. But some people suffer, just not so obviously. Everyone suffers.

 

“Watching people suffer, real crime shows and crime dramas, we are no different from the Romans in the Colosseum. The definition of the Dark Ages is when brutality rules, when greed rules.”

 

Do you suffer?

Sensitive people suffer more than others. Of course I suffer, I am a human being. When I work, when I am creating, that alleviates having your mind play with you, bringing you down and getting caught up. When you are in the flow of life it is easier to battle your demons, the dark side that comes to everybody. But the suffering is inescapable, unless you are completely cold blooded.

Have you showed your dark side in your art, in your pictures?

For me they were never dark. I would comment on materialism or greed, and play with the social issues that were interesting at the time, but they were always balanced with beauty.

You are not an artist who is against others?

No, I am inspired by the bad work of others to do better. We are in the Dark Ages. When violence is the pornography, like videogames and movies like ‘The Hunger Games’, all the serial killer films, all the torture and brutality as entertainment. Watching people suffer, real crime shows and crime dramas, we are no different from the Romans in the Colosseum. The definition of the Dark Ages is when brutality rules, when greed rules.

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(All rights reserved. Text @ Alain Elkann. Image @ David LaChapelle.)

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