Over the course of his 60 year career, Terry O’Neill photographed the world’s most famous celebrities, but the true power of his images comes from the intimacy of his lens, his ability to see beyond the glamour to reveal the true spirit of the individual.
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Born in Romford, Essex, O’Neill’s family intended him to join the Catholic priesthood, but he ended up leaving school at 15 to play drums in a band, which eventually led him to photography. He trailed behind bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and walked onto film sets in Europe and Hollywood, quickly befriending many of the stars which allowed him access to their private lives and resulted in long-lasting relationships. He photographed David Bowie over a twenty year period, capturing his artistic evolution from Space Oddity singer to Ziggy Stardust to Thin White Duke, Muhammad Ali relaxing in an arm chair reading a paper, Richard Burton wearing a shower cap in the bath, Brigitte Bardot posing with a cigar between her teeth and Audrey Hepburn playing cricket on the lawn in the South of France amongst many others.
The first retrospective of the British photographer’s work (he died in 2019) Every Picture Tells a Story at Maddox Gallery in Gstaad brings together a collection of these candid, photojournalistic portraits, revealing both how O’Neill pioneered the concept of behind-the-scenes reportage and captured the essence of a bygone era.
‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ runs until 29 August at Maddox Gallery, Gstaad, Switzerland. For more information visit: maddoxgallery.co.uk