Philip-Lorca diCorcia: Biography

American photographer Philip-Lorca diCorcia emerged in the 1980s as part of a generation of photographers who sought to explore and challenge the boundaries of the medium. Over the past three decades, he has become known for his meticulously planned and executed photographs involving a variety of individuals, including friends, relatives, anonymous strangers, pole dancers, and street hustlers, among others. Deploying his subjects in preconceived yet seemingly random positions and contexts, diCorcia’s images are far from candid snapshots, but rather explore the tension between the casual and the posed, the accidental and the fated. At once documentary and theatrical, his work operates in the interstices of fact and fiction. As Bennett Simpson notes, "the essential affect of diCorcia's work does not derive from traditional representations of empathy or closeness, but from the drama, contingency, and possible threat that occur 'across an interval'...diCorcia has always been drawn to locations that roar and pulse with instability...his art is one of stripping away sentimentality to picture a grappling with experience."1

Born in 1951 in Hartford, Connecticut, diCorcia attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and received his MFA from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, in 1979. The artist's first museum solo exhibition was organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1993. Since 2007, his work has been represented by David Zwirner, where he has had four solo exhibitions at the gallery’s New York location including Thousand (2009); Eleven (2011); Hustlers (2013), which coincided with the publication of a large-scale book by steidldangin; and East of Eden (2015), which was first shown in 2013 at David Zwirner, London. In 2019, a solo exhibition of diCorcia’s work was presented at the Hong Kong gallery. In 2020, the Paris gallery presented the artist's seventh solo show with David Zwirner.

Venues that have hosted significant solo exhibitions of diCorcia’s work include Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (1997); Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany (2000); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2003); Foam Fotografiemuseum, Amsterdam (2006); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2007); and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2008).

In 2012, work by diCorcia was included in a major retrospective on the American artist Edward Hopper at the Grand Palais, Paris. In 2013, a major career-spanning survey of diCorcia's work, consisting of more than one hundred photographs from six series, was organized by the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. The exhibition traveled later that year to the Museum De Pont, Tilburg, The Netherlands, followed by The Hepworth Wakefield, England, in 2014, and marked the most comprehensive presentation of his work in Europe to date. 

Works by diCorcia are held in public collections internationally, including the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum De Pont, Tilburg, The Netherlands; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. He lives and works in New York.

1 Bennett Simpson, "Philip-Lorca diCorcia: The Exploded View," in Simpson, ed., Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Exh. cat. (Boston: Institute of Contemporary Art, 2007), p. 25.

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