Oct 19, 2011

PROFILE | Philip-Lorca diCorcia | Fact or Fiction

Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Brent Booth, 21 years old, Des Moines, Iowa, $30, inkjet print

Philip-Lorca diCorcia is one of the most influential contemporary photographers due to his theatrically based process.  He has been credited with creating a new style of photography that smeared the line between fiction and reality. diCorcia uses people as his subject matter and uniquely directs them act a certain way while adding his own separate lighting sources to create his own narrative. His planned approach to each photo has allowed him to create images packed with information that are both visually and emotionally engaging. 

diCorcia was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1951 and studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and later went on to get his MFA at Yale where he now currently teaches.  While schooling in Boston he focused his photos on interior settings where he would use his family, friends and class mates as subjects. He then transitioned to the streets where he seemed to find his calling.  In his series called Heads, he set up in Time Square of New York City and took over 3000 photographs of strangers without telling them and ended up with less than 20 final images which he exhibited as a collective work. Here is a short video describing his experience.  
                                                                                        Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Head #13, inkjet print, 2000

A very large component of diCorcia's work is chance.  He relies on his subjects to act in a way that will create a great photo that speaks a thousand words.  The amount of emotion that he is able to pull out of his subjects and freeze in time without ever speaking to them is heavy and meaningful.  Going back to the first image presented titled Brent Booth, he found the man s
itting on the street and offered him $30 dollars to pose for him. This was a common practice for diCorcia. He did a series called Hustlers where he used primarily male prostitutes from the streets of Hollywood.  He has a keen eye for human behavior which allows him to manipulate emotional response. When viewing the image without any prior knowledge of both diCorcia or Booth the image seems simple and organic, like it was not set up at all but actually a moment in time. Then after reading into the back story of the work and what went into setting up the shot it is incredible that diCorcia was able to orchestrate such a natural and pure emotionally powerful response from his subjects.  

As far as exhibitions are concerned there are not many places that Philip-Lorca diCorcia has left to conquer. His very first solo showing was at a gallery in Milan and only a short time later was being shown at MOMA along with just about every other big name venue soon after.  In 2008 the LACMA in Los Angeles showed a retrospective of his work which "crowned" his young career. diCorcia's original style and creative vision has hoisted him into a very important position in not only contemporary photography but in contemporary art history.

-Taylor Williams


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