b. 1951, USA

Philip-Lorca diCorcia Biography

Philip-Lorcia diCorcia is an American photographer highly regarded for what seem to be spontaneous images (vibrant, coloured scenes of social interaction) but which are usually in fact carefully staged. Both documentary and theatrical, diCorcia's images are simultaneously fact and fiction.

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DiCorcia's approach to photography has influenced a generation of photographers (Alex Prager and Alec Soth, among others) who work with controlled situations and semi-anonymous portrait subjects.

The artist lives in New York, and teaches at Yale in New Haven.

Tertiary Education

The son of an architect and Italian immigrants, diCorcia attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where he graduated with a diploma in 1975, and then a fifth year certificate in 1976. He subsequently went to Yale University, receiving an MFA in Photography in 1979.

Philip-Lorcia diCorcia Artwork

Eighties photography

DiCorcia's early projects involved friends and family posing in constructed sets with props or on the street, faking incidents that seemed spontaneous. The details of the lighting, choice of clothing and the positioning of the bodies were thoroughly organised in advance.

The artist was interested in surface, how humans are deeply private, their mental states and values effortlessly hidden, and that photography has nothing intrinsically to do with truth or fact. That and the fact that all art being constructed has a social framework anyway. (New York City (Bruce and Ronnie 1982) 1983; Sergio and Toti, 1985)

Nineties photography

In this period diCorcia started to investigate subject matters not normally looked at by the bourgeois artworld, areas regarded as impolite or dubious. Using a government grant he began to hire hustlers in Hollywood to pose in the evening in Tinseltown locations (such as the street, motel rooms, parking lots) linked to their 'trade'.

With these male prostitutes, the photograph labels gave each person's name, age, hometown, and what they charged diCorcio for their time: their going rate for the use of their bodies. (Two examples are Eddie Anderson; 21 years old; Houston, Texas; $20, 1990-92; Ike Cole; 38 years old; Los Angeles, California, $25, 1990-92)

1999 0n

During the nineties, diCorcia continued to explore street photography. Some projects involved chance, not preplanned control, where strangers in crowds did not know their moving heads or bodies were being photographed.

In 1999, DiCorcia set up his camera on a tripod in Times Square, attached hidden long range strobelights on scaffolding across the street and took thousands of photographs. Selecting only a few images to share, this resulted in two published books, Streetwork (1998) which showed wider views including subjects' entire bodies, and Heads (2001), which featured more closely cropped portraits as the name implies.

Later this millennium

In 2004, a series (Lucky 13) using spot lit pole dancers, swirling naked and upside down against black curtained backdrops, large mirrors or shelves of bottles, continued his interest in 'improper' subject matter. (For instance, Heema, 2004; Juliet Ms Muse, 2004)

Other projects (involving sets) are more stylised, openly embracing theatricality and art historical allusions, but also incorporating more humour and irony. (See: The Hamptons, 2008; Genesis, 2015; Cain and Abel, 2013) They have a knowing rigidity and formality, displaying a self-awareness of hermetic processes being perpetuated.


Selected solo Exhibitions

Philip-Lorca diCorcia, David Zwirner, Paris, 2020
Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (touring), 2013
East of Eden, David Zwirner, London, 2013
Hustlers, David Zwirner, New York, 2013
Thousand, David Zwirner, New York, 2009
Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 2008
Strangers, MoMA, New York, 1993

Selected group Exhibitions

American Photography, Albertina Museum, Vienna, 2021
Be Seen: Portrait Photography Since Stonewall, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut, 2019
Rough Trade: Art and Sex Work in the Late 20th Century, ClampArt, New York, 2018
Edward Hopper and Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2014
Performing for the Camera, ASU Art Museum, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, 2012

Selected Collections

Centre Pompidou, Paris
MoMA, New York
Tate Modern, London
Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Selected Artist books

A Storybook Life, Twin Palms, 2003
Thousand, SteidlDagin, 2007

John Hurrell | Ocula | 2021

Philip-Lorca diCorcia Featured Artworks

View All (34)
W, September 1998, #2 by Philip-Lorca diCorcia contemporary artwork photography, print
Philip-Lorca diCorcia W, September 1998, #2, 1998 Archival pigment print
81.3 x 124.8 cm
David Zwirner Contact Gallery
Upstate by Philip-Lorca diCorcia contemporary artwork photography
Philip-Lorca diCorcia Upstate, 2009 Inkjet print
182.6 x 146.7 x 4.4 cm (incl frame)
David Zwirner Contact Gallery
Catherine by Philip-Lorca diCorcia contemporary artwork photography
Philip-Lorca diCorcia Catherine, 1981 Ektacolor professional print
40 x 60 cm
rodolphe janssen Contact Gallery
Head #5 by Philip-Lorca diCorcia contemporary artwork photography
Philip-Lorca diCorcia Head #5, 2000 Fujicolor Crystal Archive print mounted to Plexiglas,
122 x 152.5 cm
Almine Rech Contact Gallery
Head #01 by Philip-Lorca diCorcia contemporary artwork photography
Philip-Lorca diCorcia Head #01, 2001 Fuji crystal archive print mounted to dipond
121.9 x 152.4 cm
Sprüth Magers Enquire
Lynn by Philip-Lorca diCorcia contemporary artwork photography
Philip-Lorca diCorcia Lynn, 2004 Fuji crystal archive print mounted to dipond
152.4 x 101.1 cm
Sprüth Magers Enquire
Logan by Philip-Lorca diCorcia contemporary artwork photography
Philip-Lorca diCorcia Logan, 2004 Fuji crystal archive print mounted to dipond
152.4 x 101.1 cm
Sprüth Magers Enquire
Mario by Philip-Lorca diCorcia contemporary artwork print
Philip-Lorca diCorcia Mario, 1978 Ektacolor print
50.8 x 61 cm
Sprüth Magers Enquire

Philip-Lorca diCorcia Recent Exhibitions

View All (7)

Philip-Lorca diCorcia Represented By

David Zwirner contemporary art gallery in 19th Street, New York, USA David Zwirner Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris
Sprüth Magers contemporary art gallery in Berlin, Germany Sprüth Magers Berlin, London, Los Angeles

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