Indepth Arts News: |
"Gary Lee Boas: Starstruck"
2001-04-12 until 2001-05-26
Gary Lee Boas' candid snapshots offer us an
intriguing view of celebrities between 1966 and
1980. From his teens, sometimes with his mother,
other times with fellow autograph hunters, he would
travel to New York and wait for hours outside TV talk
shows, media events and stage doors, hoping to
meet his favourite celebrity. This was the era before
John Lennon was shot by a fan and the film star
Ronald Reagan became President. Boas lives in the
unremarkable blue collar town Lancaster,
Pennsylvania, and has spent all his spare time
gathering his formidable collection of star
paraphernalia. The 550 photographs on show here
reveal but a small sample of his 50,000 collection that
lie uncatalogued in his home, including letters sent
to Boas by the stars, signed newspaper cuttings and
other personalised memorabilia.
Through his work, which inhabits an area between
fantasy and reality, we can start to examine our
fascination with fame. His subject is the complete
spectrum of popular media celebrity from porn stars
and pageant queens to politicians and actors. Boas -
a shy character - talks in an almost predatory way
about his ability to catch shots of the stars.
From his plethora of anecdotes he has clearly built
relationships with the likes of Katharine Hepburn and
was even invited to Richard Nixon's funeral;
obviously the stars basked in the attention he
showered on them. This reciprocal relationship
between adoring fan and stars is perfectly illustrated
in Boas' shot of himself stood next to Julie Christie -
we see a temporary uncanny resemblance - they
adopt a similar pose and hairstyles with Boas
appearing at ease next to his heroine.
The archival quality of his prints, which are not all in
pristine condition lend his photographs an authentic
appeal. Today we live in a culture where the
democratisation of the star system has all but
collapsed the gap between celebrity and normal life.
We now crave the glitz and glamour that surrounded
Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis and Ingrid Bergman.
We have also seen the virtual demise of the
traditional autograph hunter replaced by amateur
paparazzi keen to sell intrusive glimpses of the
famous. Boas' gift is that his work brings back to us an
age of innocence that seems now to be lost.
Gary Lee Boas
Bianca Jagger and Andy Warhol
New York City