Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Paparazzi!

Paparazzi!
Paparazzi!
Paparazzi!
Paparazzi!
Paparazzi! is the catalogue of an exhibition held last year in Paris. (Famously, the term 'paparazzo' was coined by Federico Fellini for his film La Dolce Vita.) Edited by Clement Cheroux (author of Henri Cartier-Bresson: Here & Now and a supplement to The Decisive Moment), the book features interviews with paparazzi photographers, images of the most-photographed celebrities, and examples of paparazzi photographs appropriated by contemporary art (hence the subtitle: Photographers, Stars, Artists).

In the interview chapter, veteran paparazzo Ron Galella discusses Windblown Jackie, his famous portrait of Jackie Onassis, calling it "my most sensational photo... my best photo - the most incredible, my favorite, the most sold, and the most published. It is my Mona Lisa." The book also includes nude photographs of Onassis taken by Settimio Garritano, though its most notorious photo is perhaps a 1962 image of Elizabeth Taylor kissing Richard Burton, by Marcello Geppetti.

In his introductory essay, Cheroux identifies the paparazzi style: "there exists perhaps not a paparazzi art but a paparazzi aesthetic. This is the product of a group of technical determinants (the telephoto lens, the flash, the grain due to excessive enlargement)... and gestural habits (the hand in front of the face, the surprised look or averted gaze)." He concludes by recognising the significance of this paparazzi aesthetic: "Today, paparazzism has become a genre, a full-fledged stylistic category, and perhaps even one of the "-isms" of contemporary art."

Paparazzi photographs are often the subject of legal dispute (such as the recent lawsuits against Closer by Kate Middleton and Julie Gayet), and the book discusses the privacy implications of long-lens photography. This is starkly illustrated by a series of images of celebrities photographed on their deathbeds, in open caskets, or at the scenes of fatal accidents. These include the notorious photo of Princess Diana after her car crash, and its inclusion in this book marks its first appearance in print in the UK.

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