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Uncanny timing: an exhibit of paparazzi photos


Includes a single photo of Princess Diana

September 8, 1997
Web posted at: 11:17 p.m. EDT (0317 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A year ago when the plans were laid, it was to be an art exhibit of an unusual and little-known phenomenon -- the paparazzi, the photographers who trail celebrities in hopes of a candid or unusual shot.

But after the death of Princess Diana in an automobile crash, which initial news reports blamed on aggressive photographers, interest in the photographers boomed.

While the cause of the accident is still under investigation, the timing for a retrospective on the work of the paparazzi is uncanny.

Lining the walls of the exhibit at the Robert Miller Gallery are candid shots, mostly from the 1950s and 1960s when the paparazzi were just getting started.

The exhibit, like the work of the paparazzi itself, focuses on the movie stars of the day.

Some of the photographs recall a more innocent time when a star such as Ingrid Bergman is photographed in a car with her mother-in-law and daughter Isabella Rosellini. Others, such as a photo of a bare-breasted Bridget Bardot sunbathing, are not so innocent.

There is also a photo of Pope Paul VI stepping off a plane, and another of actress Jayne Mansfield sprawled on a floor after fainting before a battery of flashbulb-popping photographers.

Includes a single photo of Princess Diana

Anita Ekberg

The exhibit also includes one of the most famous early paparazzi photos -- an incensed Anita Ekberg wielding a bow and arrow moments before she let loose an arrow and grazed one of the cameramen.

On a far wall of the exhibit, framed in black, hangs a single photograph. It shows Princess Diana walking away from a camera, wearing a stylish, low-backed dress.

"We had a long debate on whether we would put up a picture of Diana," says Olivier Renaud-Clement, the gallery's director of photography.

Diana had an odd relationship with the press. She both cultivated journalists, telephoning a reporter hours before her death, and agonizing over their constant badgering and the harsh treatment she received in the tabloids.

Says Renaud-Clement, "We decided to do it."

Correspondent Gary Tuchman contributed to this report.


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