Today, it’s common to spot a trail of paparazzi following our favorite celebrities as they walk down the street. And while we accept this phenomenon as a part of our celeb-obsessed culture, this has not always been the case. In fact, it was the work of photographer Ron Galella that pioneered the concept of paparazzi as we know it today—and it was his voyeuristic photographic perspective that inspired our cover shoot with Olivia Wilde in Lucky‘s May issue.
Dubbed "the Godfather of U.S. paparazzi," Galella began his career in the ’60s and ’70s photographing the likes of Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor, documenting the apex of celebrity culture in New York City at that time. Since then, he has gone on to produce images that have been published in a variety of publications, as well as participate in dozens of exhibitions in a range of museums and galleries, from the MoMA to the Nikon Gallery and more.
His most recent exhibition, which features some of his most iconic work alongside never-before-released images, is currently on display as a digital gallery at District M in the Row NYC Hotel located in Times Square. Galella’s choice of location was no happy accident, either—although Times Square has transformed drastically over the past few decades, it was once the home of famous landmarks like Studio 54, Max’s Kansas and Electric Circus, with all of which Galella holds a deep, personal connection. As the seasons change this year, so too will the photos on display—you’ll have to return time and again in order to fully appreciate the depth of Galella’s portfolio. In conjunction with the exhibition, Galella teamed up with the Row NYC and Artbook to publish Ron Galella New York, which is an extension of the exhibit that further captures the essence of celebrity culture in the 20th century through the lens of the world’s most controversial celebrity photographer.
Galella’s work can be viewed free of charge at District M in the Row NYC Hotel every day from 5-7 pm. His accompanying book is available for purchase at the exhibit, as well as through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and more. Click through the above slideshow for a sneak peek of Galella’s exhibition—including the likes of Naomi Campbell, Meryl Streep, Claudia Schiffer and Madonna, like you’ve never seen them before!