Philip-Lorca diCorcia

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Philip-Lorca diCorcia
Born1951 (age 70–71)
EducationSchool of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Known forPhotography

Philip-Lorca diCorcia (born 1951)[1] is an American photographer, living in New York City. He teaches at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

DiCorcia was born in 1951 in Hartford, Connecticut.[1] His father, Philip Joseph DiCorcia, was a major architect in Hartford; he operated Philip J. DiCorcia Associates.[3] 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.[2]


Brent Booth, 21 years old,
Des Moines, Iowa, $30

DiCorcia alternates between informal snapshots and iconic quality staged compositions that often have a baroque theatricality.[4]

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.[5] 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.[4]

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.[5][6] His work from this period is associated with the Boston School of photography.[7] 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.[8]

His photographs give a sense of heightened drama to accidental poses, unintended movements and insignificant facial expressions of those passing by.[9] 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.[9] Each of his series, Hustlers, Streetwork, Heads, A 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.[10] As they are pre-planned, diCorcia often plants in his concepts issues like the marketing of reality, the commodification of identity, art, and morality.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14]


  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1995; 2003. ISBN 0870701452. With a text by Peter Galassi.
  • Streetwork, 1993–1997. Spain: Centro de Fotografía and Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca, 1998. With texts by JoséLuis Brea and diCorcia. Exhibition catalogue.
    • Streetwork. Mexico City: Galeria OMR, 2000. Exhibition catalogue.
    • Streetwork. With a text by Thomas Weski. Hannover: Sprengel Museum, 2000. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Heads. Göttingen: Steidl, 2001. ISBN 3882434414. With text by Luc Sante. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Rencontres 6: Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Paris: Images Modernes, 2001. With a text by Jeff Rian.
  • A Storybook Life. Santa Fe, NM: Twin Palms, 2003.[15]
  • Lucky Thirteen. New York: PaceWildenstein, 2005.
  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Steidl/Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, 2007. ISBN 3865213855. With a text by Bennett Simpson, a foreword by Jill Medvedow, and an interview with diCorcia by Lynne Tillman. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Thousand. New York and Göttingen, Germany: SteidlDangin, 2007.[16]
  • Eleven. Bologna, Italy: Freedman Damiani, 2011. Edited by Dennis Freedman. With text by Mary Gaitskill and an interview with diCorcia by Jeff Rian.
  • Hustlers. New York and Göttingen, Germany: SteidlDangin, 2013. ISBN 978-3-86930-617-9. With a text by diCorcia.[17][18]
  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Edited by Katharina Dohm, Hendrik Driessen, and Max Hollein. With texts by Dohm and Geoff Dyer, and an interview with diCorcia by Christoph Ribbat. Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt; Bielefeld, Germany: Kerber. Exhibition catalogue.
  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia: III Premio Internacional de Fotografía/III International Photography Award. Madrid: Centro de Arte Alcobendas, 2014. With texts by Martinez de Corral, Ignacio Garcia de Vinuesa, Luis Miguel Torres Hernandez, and Christoph Ribbat. Exhibition catalogue.


Solo exhibitions[edit]

Group exhibitions[edit]


DiCorcia's work is held in the following public collections:



In 2006, a New York trial court issued a ruling in a case involving one of his photographs. One of diCorcia's New York random subjects was Erno Nussenzweig, an Orthodox Jew who objected on religious grounds to diCorcia's publishing in an artistic exhibition a photograph taken of him without his permission. The photo's subject argued that his privacy and religious rights had been violated by both the taking and publishing of the photograph of him. The judge dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the photograph taken of Nussenzweig on a street is art - not commerce - and therefore is protected by the First Amendment.[37]

Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Judith J. Gische ruled that the photo of Nussenzweig—a head shot showing him sporting a scraggly white beard, a black hat and a black coat—was art, even though the photographer sold 10 prints of it at $20,000 to $30,000 each. The judge ruled that New York courts have "recognized that art can be sold, at least in limited editions, and still retain its artistic character (...) [F]irst [A]mendment protection of art is not limited to only starving artists. A profit motive in itself does not necessarily compel a conclusion that art has been used for trade purposes."[38]

The case was appealed and dismissed on procedural grounds.[39][40][41]


  1. ^ a b Victoria and Albert Museum, Online Museum (30 March 2011). "Philip-Lorca diCorcia". Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  2. ^ a b c Release: David Zwirner - Philip-Lorca diCorcia: Thousand (February 27 - March 28, 2009). Retrieved on May 20-2009 (PDF) Archived 2009-09-02 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "Philip Joseph DiCorcia Obit June 2, 1980," Hartford Courant, June 4, 1980, p. 5.
  4. ^ a b Whitechapel Art Gallery, London Archived 2007-10-11 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on November 23-2007.
  5. ^ a b Carnegie International - Artist Bio. Retrieved on November 23-2007.
  6. ^ a b c "Leslie Simitch Limited". Archived from the original on 2007-11-19. Retrieved 2007-11-24. Leslie Simitch Limited - Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Retrieved on November 23-2007.
  7. ^ "Emotions and Relations: Photographs by David Armstrong, Nan Goldin, Philip Lorca DiCorcis, Mark Morrisroe, and Jack Pierson". photo-eye. Taschen. Archived from the original on April 25, 2015.
  8. ^ Unfamiliar Streets. Katherine A. Bussard. The Photographs of Richard Avedon, Charles Moore, Martha Rosler, and Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Philip-Lorca diCorcia Analogues of Reality. Yale University Press. 2012. p156. Referenced April 6, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Philip-Lorca diCorcia: Streetwork Archived 2010-01-18 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on November 23-2007.
  10. ^ "Philip-Lorca diCorcia".
  11. ^ PHILIP-LORCA diCORCIA by Marlena Donohue Retrieved on November 23-2007.
  12. ^ Arthur Lubow (August 23, 2013), Real People, Contrived Settings: Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s ‘Hustlers’ Return to New York New York Times.
  13. ^ Philip Gefter (March 17, 2006), Street photography: A right or invasion? International Herald Tribune.
  14. ^ Cathy Horyn (February 11, 2011), Q & A: Philip-Lorca diCorcia New York Times.
  15. ^ "Philip-Lorca diCorcia on 'A Storybook Life': Circular Narratives, Dream States and Doing What You Like". American Suburb X. 13 August 2015. Retrieved 2021-02-10.
  16. ^ "Philip-Lorca diCorcia Discussing 'Hustlers' & 'Thousand'". American Suburb X. 5 March 2010. Retrieved 2021-02-10.
  17. ^ "Trade: Philip-Lorca diCorcia's Hollywood Hustlers". Time. Retrieved 2021-02-10.
  18. ^ "Richard Kern on Philip Lorca-diCorcia's 'Hustlers'". Vice. Retrieved 2021-02-10.
  19. ^ "Philip-Lorca diCorcia: Strangers".
  20. ^ "Philip-Lorca diCorcia - Centre national de la photographie - Art of the day".
  21. ^ "Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Hustler/ Streetwork | Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía".
  22. ^ Dicorcia, Philip-Lorca; Weski, Thomas (2000). Philip-Lorca DiCorcia: Streetwork. ISBN 9783891691519.
  23. ^ Warren, Lynne (15 November 2005). Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photography, 3-Volume Set. ISBN 9781135205362.
  24. ^ Mahoney, Elisabeth (12 June 2003). "Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Whitechapel Gallery, London". The Guardian.
  25. ^ Fisher, Cora (6 April 2009). "Philip-Lorca diCorcia: Thousand". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 2021-02-10.
  26. ^ "Rent boys and pole dancers – the photographs of Philip-Lorca diCorcia". The Guardian. 14 February 2014. Retrieved 2021-02-10.
  27. ^ "Philip-Lorca diCorcia's 'Roid' At Sprüth Magers London". The Huffington Post. 11 June 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  28. ^ "Philip Lorca diCorcia: Roid". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  29. ^ "Brian | Centre Pompidou".
  30. ^ "Philip-Lorca diCorcia - MoMA".
  31. ^ Victoria and Albert Museum (30 March 2011). "Philip-Lorca diCorcia".
  32. ^ "Whitney Museum of American Art: Philip-Lorca diCorcia".
  33. ^ "Philip-Lorca diCorcia". SFMOMA.
  34. ^[bare URL]
  35. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Philip-Lorca diCorcia".
  36. ^ "Philip-Lorca diCorcia". International Photography Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  37. ^ NY - Nussenzweig v DiCorcia (February 8, 2006). Retrieved on May 3, 2008.
  38. ^ American Journalism Review - Giving Offense. Retrieved on May 3, 2008.
  39. ^ Clancco - Update on Nussenzweig v. diCorcia Case (July '07). Retrieved on May 3, 2008.
  40. ^ The New York Times - Case Over ‘Heads’ Photo Is Dismissed. Retrieved on May 3, 2008.
  41. ^ - 'Art' Photo Is Not Subject to Privacy Law, Judge Finds. Retrieved on May 3, 2008.

General references[edit]

  • Unfamiliar Streets. Katherine A. Bussard. The Photographs of Richard Avedon, Charles Moore, Martha Rosler, and Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Philip-Lorca diCorcia Analogues of Reality. Yale University Press. 2012. p. 156. Referenced April 6, 2015.

External links[edit]