Terry O´Neill


(curated by Diego Alonso)

from 12ve January to 14th February 2017

Opening 12ve January 2017 - 20hs


“I never think of myself as an icon. What is in other people's minds is not in my mind. I just do my thing.”

Audrey Hepburn

MONDO GALERIA presents for the first time in Madrid this exhibition of photographs by TERRY O'NEILL, curated by Diego Alonso in which we face the most important icons of the twentieth century photographed at different times of their artistic careers . Audrey Hepburn , Sean Connery, David Bowie or Naomi Campbell pose in front of the lens of a photographer who is characterized by the closeness of his images and his invisible presence. The faces of the protagonists of a century has passed in front of his lens. Admirable , adorable , endearing and above all sincere these 18 portraits selected specially for the exhibition will be distributed in between MONDO GALERIA and Hotel Hesperia in Madrid.


Text by Horacio Basilicus

A retrospective selection made by Diego Alonso for MONDO GALERIA shows the extreme variety of the works by a photographer who, from the 60s until today, has photographed the faces of young music talents and major Hollywood stars, models and star-system characters.

Terry O´Neill´s career began  in the 1960s after a sheer stroke of luck. His plan was to travel to the US to become a musician, but he happened to take a picture of the British Foreign Secretary asleep at the airport in London. A newspaper bought the picture and his career took a complete turn over.

His personal style has been defined by two factors: the use of a 35 mm camera, which is much lighter and easier to handle than most modern devices, and the amount of time he would spend with his targets, who he would practically shadow for days. The outcome was a natural, direct and casual style that remained throughout his career.



Kate Moss

1993. Gelatin Silver Print / 90 x 90 cm. / Signed and Numbered

© Terry O´Neill / Iconic Images / Courtesy MONDO GALERIA

From The Beatles to Kate Moss

O'Neill was also a pioneer in portraying music bands. He was the first to photograph the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and to publish that material in press. So, he remember, that the first published image of the four from Liverpool was made by him in 1963, in the court yard of the mythical Abbey Road Studio. It was the first time he portrayed a pop band, and also the first time an image of a pop band was published on the cover of a newspaper. That news paper was sold out.
Living in the 60's in London allowed him to witness how this city became the world capital of youth culture and fashion. His meetings with the Rolling Stones, with models like Jean Shrimpton or Mary Quant, with actors like Michael Caine or Julie Christie, his close friendship with Ringo Starr, are only the beginning of a career full of anecdotes.
He has been able to photograph all the supermodels, from Shrimpton to Naomi Campbell or Kate Moss. There are also beautiful actresses like Ava Gardner, Raquel Welch or Goldie Hawn. Among all the female legends, he distinguishes Audrey Hepburn: "she is the most distinguished star that I have photographed, perfect and beautiful, it was impossible to take a bad picture of her! There is no new Audrey, nor there will be."

Sean Connery
1971. Geltin Silver Print / 96 x 75 cm / Signed and numbered 7/50
© Terry O´Neill/Iconic Images / Courtesy MONDO GALERIA


Witness of unique moments, he portrayed Marlene Dietrich in hes last concert in Europe, and also Romy Schneider just two months before his death. O'Neill confirms in an interview, that the best thing that happened to him in his life was to photograph Frank Sinatra for thirty years. He allowed the photographer to accompany him everywhere, ignoring his presence: "this is the best thing you can do to a photographer. I could go wherever I was, whenever I wanted, and take the photos I liked. It works wonderfully that spontaneity." However, despite all the years they shared, they never became friends. His role was that of an observer because according to him respect and distance are essential for this work.
Another important figure in his career was Elton John, whom he portrayed over four decades. So much so, that the artistic takeoff of the singer was thanks to O'Neill. His past as a musician and his early relationship with the Beatles and Rolling Stones earned him the reputation of a discoverer of new talent. After he heard the songs "Take me to the pilot" and "7-11-70" he liked the music so much that he wanted to photograph him. Vogue magazine published that image and he started from there.

But besides characters from the world of music and beautiful women, there have been many male legends that have gone through O'Neill's lens: Steve McQueen, Al Pacino, Robert Redford and Paul Newman among many others.
He has been the only photographer to have portrayed all the actors who have played James Bond, among whom Sean Connery stands out as "the most masculine man I've ever portrayed."
According to O'Neill, the three fundamental rules for a great photographer are: being invisible, having patience and knowing how to combine discretion with public relations. This has earned him an undeniable success getting spontaneous and close-up images. At present he exceptionally accepts projects. For example he did the last official portraits of Nelson Mandela, in 2008, or the official photo for the world football Cup in Brazil, 2014, where Pelé appears with the World Cup.

It will be difficult that History and the world of photography as we know it could produce another photographer like Terry O´Neill.


Audrey Hepburn
1966. Gelatin Silver Print / 57 x 40 cm / Signed and Numbered 21/50
© Terry O´Neill/Iconic Images




Terry O'Neill (born 30 July 1938) is an English photographer. He gained renown documenting the fashions, styles, and celebrities of the 1960s. O'Neill's photographs display his knack for capturing his subjects candidly or in unconventional settings. His work has also been featured in numerous exhibitions. He was awarded The Royal Photographic Society's Centenary medal 'in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography' in 2011.

Terry began his career working in a photographic unit for an airline at London's Heathrow Airport. During this time, he photographed a sleeping figure in a waiting area who, by happenstance, was revealed to be Britain's Home Secretary. O'Neill thereafter found further employment on Fleet Street with The Daily Sketch in 1959. His first professional job was photographing Laurence Olivier.
His reputation grew during the 1960s. In addition to photographing the decade's show-business elite such as Judy Garland, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, he also photographed members of the British Royal Family and prominent politicians, showing a more natural and human side to these subjects than had usually been portrayed before.

"Terry O´Neill does naturally the most complex thing: to do things look simple" Diego Alonso

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