Paparazzo Extraordinaire

Not many people can say they’ve been sued by Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis, gotten his jaw broken by Marlon Brando and beaten by Richard Burton’s bodyguards, but Ron Galella can. Dubbed as “Paparazzo Extraordinaire” by Newsweek, and the “Godfather of U.S. paparazzi culture” by Time and Vanity Fair, Galella is the most famous and controversial photographer ever to capture the most esteemed celebrities in candid moments. And we’re not talking candid like Paris, Lilo or Britney flashing their cha-cha’s getting out of a Bentley. 79-year-old Galella has been on the scene for decades capturing iconic images like a wind-blown Jackie-O crossing Madison Avenue, Andy Warhol and crew living it up at Studio 54, Robert Redford stylishly stepping out of a limo, Bruce Springsteen and Mick Jagger facing off onstage, and Al Pacino trying to remain incognito. These are the classic celebrity shots which have found their way into countless magazines and, more recently, museum collections. Galella turned snapshot photography into an art form – photography with the paparazzi approach.

Ron Galella: Smash His Camera runs through August 20 at Staley Wise Gallery in New York. A documentary of his life and career by Oscar-winning director, Leon Gast, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and received the Grand Jury Award for Directing in the U.S. Documentary category recently aired on HBO and will soon be released internationally by Magnolia Pictures. Galella seems to be just as big a celebrity as the ones he’s captured.

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