Philip-Lorca Dicorcia

Philip-Lorca diCorcia was born in 1951 in Hartford, Connecticut. His father, Philip Joseph DiCorcia, was a major architect in Hartford; he operated Philip J. DiCorcia Associates. The DiCorcia family is of Italian descent, having moved to the United States from Abruzzo. He attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he earned a Diploma in 1975 and a 5th year certificate in 1976. Afterwards diCorcia attended Yale University, where he received a Master of Fine Arts in Photography in 1979.

DiCorcia alternates between informal snapshots and iconic quality staged compositions that often have a baroque theatricality.

Using a carefully planned staging, he takes everyday occurrences beyond the realm of banality, trying to inspire in his picture’s spectators an awareness of the psychology and emotion contained in real-life situations. His work could be described as documentary photography mixed with the fictional world of cinema and advertising, which creates a powerful link between reality, fantasy and desire.

During the late 1970s, during diCorcia’s early career, he used to situate his friends and family within fictional interior tableaus, that would make the viewer think that the pictures were spontaneous shots of someone’s everyday life, when they were in fact carefully staged and pre-planned. His work from this period is associated with the Boston School of photography. He would later start photographing random people in urban spaces all around the world. When in Berlin, Calcutta, Hollywood, New York, Rome and Tokyo, he would often hide lights in the pavement, which would illuminate a random subject, often isolating them from the other people in the street.

His photographs give a sense of heightened drama to accidental poses, unintended movements and insignificant facial expressions of those passing by. Even if sometimes the subject appears to be completely detached from the world around them, diCorcia has often used the city of the subject’s name as the title of the photo, placing the passers-by back into the city’s anonymity. Each of his series, HustlersStreetworkHeadsA Storybook Life, and Lucky Thirteen, can be considered progressive explorations of diCorcia’s formal and conceptual fields of interest. Besides his family, associates and random people he has also photographed personas already theatrically enlarged by their life choices, such as the pole dancers in his latest series.

His pictures have black humor within them, and have been described as “Rorschach-like”, since they can have a different interpretation depending on the viewer. As they are pre-planned, diCorcia often plants in his concepts issues like the marketing of reality, the commodification of identity, art, and morality.

In 1989, financed by a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship of $45,000, DiCorcia began his Hustlers project. Starting in the early 1990s, he made five trips to Los Angeles to photograph male prostitutes in Hollywood. He used a 6×9 Linhof view camera, which he positioned in advance with Polaroid tests. At first, he photographed his subjects only in motel rooms. Later, he moved onto the streets. When the Museum of Modern Art exhibited 25 of the photographs in 1993 under the title Strangers, each was labeled with the name of the man who posed, his hometown, his age, and the amount of money that changed hands.

In 1999, diCorcia set up his camera on a tripod in Times Square, attached strobe lights to scaffolding across the street and took a series of pictures of strangers passing under his lights. 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.

Originally published in W as a result of a collaboration with Dennis Freedman between 1997 and 2008, diCorcia produced a series of fashion stories in places such as Havana, Cairo and New York.


Selected Solo Exhibitions
  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia, David Zwirner, Paris, 3e, Paris, France
  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia, David Zwirner, Hong Kong, Central, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia: East of Eden, David Zwirner, New York (525 W 19th Street), Chelsea, New York, USA
  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia: Hustlers, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia: Photographs 1975-2012, De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art, Tilburg, Netherlands
  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia: East of Eden, David Zwirner, London, Mayfair, London, UK
  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia: Hustlers, David Zwirner, New York (525 W 19th Street), Chelsea, New York, USA
  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia: Photographs 1975-2012, SCHIRN Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany
  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia: Roid, Sprüth Magers, London, Mayfair, London, UK
  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia: Eleven, David Zwirner, New York (519 W 19th Street), Chelsea, New York, USA
  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia, David Zwirner, New York (525 W 19th Street), New York, USA
  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia, LACMA, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Park La Brea, Los Angeles, California, USA
Selected Group Exhibitions
  • L’arte e la città / Art and the city, Centro Pecci, Prato, Italy
  • American Photography, Albertina Museum, Vienna, Austria
  • Breakfast Club, Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels, Brussels, Belgium
  • Home is a Home is a Home is a Home., Jousse Entreprise, Contemporary Art, 3e, Paris, France
  • Cámara y ciudad. La vida urbana en la fotografía y el cine, CaixaForum, Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  • The Polaroid Project: At the Intersection of Art and Technology Part I, MIT Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  • D, Frac Ile-de-France, Le Chateau, Bussy-saint-martin, France
  • Street. Life. Photography. Seven Decades of Street Photography, Kunst Haus Wien, Vienna, Austria
  • Singing the Body Electric, David Zwirner, Hong Kong, Central, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • Be Seen: Portrait Photography Since Stonewall, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut, USA
  • Fil Noir: Exposition De La Collection De La Mep, MEP, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, 4e, Paris, France
  • Changing Views: 20 Years of Art Collection Deutsche Börse, Foam Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • A Day’s Work, Bartha Contemporary, St. James’s, London, UK
  • The City (And a Few Lonely People), ClampArt, Chelsea, New York, USA
  • Rough Trade: Art and Sex Work from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, ClampArt, Chelsea, New York, USA
  • Putting Out, Gavin Brown’s enterprise, Grand Street, New York, USA
  • David Zwirner: 25 Years, David Zwirner, New York (533 W 19th Street), New York, USA
  • POLAROIDS: The Disappearing, Nathalie Karg Gallery, Lower East Side, New York, USA
  • The Polaroid Project, WestLicht, Vienna, Austria
  • Stop / Motion, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, USA
  • What I Loved: Selected Works from the ’90s, Regen Projects, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Telling Tales: Contemporary Narrative Photography, McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas, USA
  • Counterpoints Photography: Through the Lens of Toronto Collections, Art Museum, University of Toronto Art Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection, Whitney Museum of American Art, Greenwich Village, New York, USA
  • Physical: Sex and the Body in the 1980s, LACMA, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Park La Brea, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • This is What Life is About. Narratives of Progress, Freedom and Self-fulfillment in Today’s Capitalism—Works MUSAC Collection, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla y León, Leon, Spain
  • Time Present, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, Japan
  • FRAMING DESIRE: Photography and Video, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Ft. Worth, Texas, USA
  • Eyes on the Street, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
  • The New York Times Magazine Photographs, Aperture Foundation, Chelsea, New York, USA
  • Edward Hopper and Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art, Greenwich Village, New York, USA
  • Infinite City, Zabludowicz Collection, London, London, UK
  • Kent and Vicki Logan Galleries: City of Disappearances, The Wattis Institute, San Francisco, California, USA
  • Legacy: Photographs from the Emily Fisher Landau Collection, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut, USA
  • Act/Natural: Photography, Telfair Museums, Telfair Academy, Savannah, Georgia, USA
  • 19 Rue de Saintonge, Almine Rech, Paris (rue de Turenne), 3e, Paris, France
  • Lost and Found: Anonymous Photography in Reflection, Ambach & Rice, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • The Perfect Storm, Julie Saul Gallery, Brooklyn, New York, USA
  • The Talent Show, USF Contemporary Art Museum, Tampa, Florida, USA
  • Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  • The Talent Show, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  • The Talent Show, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York, USA
  • Thrice Upon a Time, Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera, Tate Modern, Bankside, London, UK
  • The Talent Show, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  • Nuit Blanche, Patricia Low Contemporary, Gstaad, Gstaad, Switzerland
  • ATOPIA: Art and City in the 21st Century, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  • Connecticut: Group Exhibition, D’Amelio Terras, Chelsea, New York, USA
  • Five Decades of Passion. Part Two: The Founding of the Center, 1989-1991, Fisher Landau Center for Art, Long Island City, New York, USA
  • Act I: Beautiful From Every Point Of View, Witte de With Centrum voor Hedendaagse Kunst (Center for Contemporary Art), Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • Familiar Feelings: On The Boston Group, CGAC, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago De Compostela, Spain
  • Ica Collection: In The Making, Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Boston, Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  • Bad Habits, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, USA
  • Glitz & Grime: Photographs of Times Square, Yancey Richardson, Chelsea, New York, USA
  • Facebook: Images of People in Photographs from the Collection, Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont, USA
  • Looking Back, Mireille Mosler Ltd., New York, USA
  • A Shared Vision:The Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Photography Collection, Akron Art Museum, Akron, Ohio, USA

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