Publication Date: October 14, 2008
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Ron Galella didn’t invent the word "paparazzo"—Italian for a buzzing mosquito—but he certainly personalized it by redefining the relationship between the movie star and the photographer. Now in the business of catching public figures in private moments for more than three decades, the nation’s most famous celebrity photojournalist presents the next chapter in his ongoing visual diary of fame, wealth, and success in America.
In No Pictures, Galella’s second powerHouse monograph and the follow-up to the 2006 smash hit Disco Years, confrontation takes the forefront. Just as famous today as Galella’s images of a windblown, jeans-wearing Jacqueline Onassis is the legal battle that ensued; in a trial that lasted 26 days and made the cover of Life magazine, Onassis sued Galella and secured a restraining order against him. He has run afoul of Sean Penn, Richard Burton, Marlon Brando, Sam Shepard, and countless other stars, not to mention Studio 54 owner Steve Rubell—who eventually banned him from the club—and legions of angry bodyguards. No Pictures chronicles these conflicts and Galella’s relentless persistence in the face of it all, even when things got violent (as with Brando, who once landed a punch that broke the photographer’s jaw and five of his teeth). Driven by a mad curiosity and a dogged insistence that the lives of celebrities are fair game for one and all, he has continued to take risks and make enemies in service of getting the perfect shot. The stars may shout “No pictures!” but Galella refuses to take no for an answer.
Much has been written of Ron Galella. Widely regarded as the most famous and most controversial celebrity photographer in the world—he's been dubbed “Paparazzo Extraordinaire” by Newsweek and “the Godfather of U.S. paparazzi culture” by Vanity Fair—Galella is clearly willing to take great risks to get the perfect shot. As a result, he has endured two highly publicized court battles with Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis, a broken jaw at the hands of Marlon Brando, and a serious beating by Richard Burton’s bodyguards before being jailed in Cuernavaca, Mexico. But ultimately, it is his passion for the fine art of photography, coupled with a dedicated do-it-yourself approach to his craft—few artists can claim his level of skill in making their own prints—that sees Ron's body of work exhibited at museums and galleries throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in both New York and San Francisco, the Tate Modern in London, and the Helmut Newton Foundation Museum of Photography in Berlin. Ron's passion for photojournalism has also given rise to eight highly acclaimed books including Disco Years, which was honored as Best Photography Book of 2006 by The New York Times, and Smash His Camera, a documentary of his life and career by Oscar- winning director, Leon Gast (When We Were Kings, 1996), that will premiere at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and compete for Best U.S. Documentary.
Tantamount to his recognition here at home, the government of Basilicata graciously honored Ron, whose father, Vincenzo Galella, was born in Muro Lucano, by making him an honorary citizen of the Italian region in 2009. Basilicata also opened Ron Galella: Italian Icons, a traveling exhibit of over 70 of Ron’s photos, at Palazzo Lanfranchi’s Carlo Levi Hall in Matera. In conjunction with the opening, Ron launched his most recent title, Viva l’Italia!—a collection of over 225 images of Italian and Italian-American celebrities from Frank Sinatra to Sophia Loren.
A native New Yorker, Ron served as a United States Air Force photographer during the Korean conflict before attending the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, where he earned a degree in Photojournalism.