New York times

Ah look, there’s Keith Haring drawing a massive condom! And who’s that? It’s Andy Warhol hanging out with Jean-Michel Basquait! Can someone help Brooke Shields out with that top please?

Ron Galella Cover
Ron Galella Cover

Pioneering paparazzo Ron Gallela’s photographs of New York are so full of life, they almost make you feel like you’re at the party too; dancing with Divine; or pinching a lighter off Naomi Campbell; or maybe marvelling at Grace Jones’ ludicrously fabulous outfits.

Ron Galella: Grace Jones and Police Officers, 1989
Ron Galella: Grace Jones and Police Officers, 1989

The tome presents an expansive series of photographs by Galella from 1970s and 80s New York, many of which are previously unpublished. Galella, who started shooting in the 1960s, has been dubbed ‘the godfather of US paparazzi culture’, by Time magazine.

The book is a stunning collection of the brightest, boldest and most beautiful stars of the time, with images of the likes of Bianca Jagger, Madonna, Grace Jones and Al Pacino shown partying, boarding planes and going about their various glittering existences.

Ron Galella: Divine, Julie Budd, Grace Jones and Nona Hendryx, La Farfalle Disco, 1978
Ron Galella: Divine, Julie Budd, Grace Jones and Nona Hendryx, La Farfalle Disco, 1978

The book has been edited by Nick Vogelson, who also art directed and designed it, and features quotes drawn from an interview of Galella by journalist William Van Meter offering tantalising glimpses at the stories behind the images.

Wonderful as these pictures are, however, Galella’s career hasn’t been without its controversies. The photographer has been through two court battles with none other than Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis and been beaten up by Richard Burton’s bodyguards. Marlon Brando also broke his jaw; which while being undoubtedly painful, does make for a rather good dinner-party anecdote, once the soreness has subsided.

Ron Galella: Keith Haring, Club MK, 1988
Ron Galella: Keith Haring, Club MK, 1988

These tales, of course, hint at the belligerent attitude it takes to get such pictures as those in the book. However, Galella also reveals himself to have a finely-tuned sense of what makes a star.

Galella says, ‘At the critics awards in 1974…I sat down and across from me was Robert Deniro, but he was unknown. Taxi Driver wasn’t out yet. And he says to me, “someday you’re going to take my picture”. So I shot him.’

New York, Ron Galella, is out now priced £34, published  by Damiani

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