Philip-Lorca diCorcia, The Hepworth Wakefield

One of America’s most important contemporary photographers will be celebrated at The Hepworth Wakefield this February in the UK’s first major survey of work by Philip-Lorca diCorcia. The vast amount of images selected offers a unique opportunity to appreciate the full depth and complexity of diCorcia’s practice. Running 14 February until 1 June, the exhibition includes over 100 photographs from six major series.

Incorporating four decades of image work, the presentation runs from his earliest series, A Storybook Life (1975–1999) to his ongoing project, East of Eden (2008–present). All of the works represent the innovative way in which he plays with the relationship between the staged and documentary photograph. This exhibition also considers the context around his work and the historical debates around the status of honesty that is often unquestionably ascribed to photography. Setting his images in real locations, the works seem spontaneous and as a true reflection of everyday life. However, the lighting, subjects and arrangement are in fact carefully planned in advance, building a sense of heightened reality.

The exhibition will include Hustlers (1990–1992), one of diCorcia’s most iconic series featuring male prostitutes captured in various locations around Los Angeles. The photographer paid each subject the amount they would usually charge for their services to pose for him, capturing each in an environment that was reminiscent of America film culture. For Streetwork (1993–1999) and Heads (2000–2001) the artist shot unsuspecting passers-by on the streets of New York through the use of hidden flash devices. These collections brought into the limelight the problems surrounding the ethics of “street photography”.

Other series featured in the exhibition include Lucky 13 (2004) and East of Eden. DiCorcia began East of Eden in 2008 in the wake of American economic crisis, the images draw on biblical references and John Steinbeck’s eponymous 1952 book to create metaphorical works that capture the ongoing socio-political uncertainties of life.

Philip-Lorca diCorcia, 14 February – 1 June, The Hepworth Wakefield, Gallery Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 5AW.

1. Philip-Lorca diCorcia Chris, 28 years old, Los Angeles, California, $30, 1990-92. Image courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York/London.
2. Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Roy, “in his twenties”, Los Angeles, California, $30, 1990–92. Image courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York/London.
3. Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Hartford, 1979. Image courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York/London.