Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Patrick McMullan

Patrick McMullan. The photographic chronicler of the age of New York that extends from the Andy Warhol days of Interview Magazine (where his party pictures first ran) to today where he is ubiquitous, media, magazine and book-wise and peripatetic on the party scene, uptown, downtown, South Beach, LA, and the Hamptons. He is now also a small industry with several Patrick McMullan photographers covering the enormously active New York At Night party scene.

It was Warhol who first befriended him and set him on the road which today must surely be paved with gold. When he has his famous St. Patrick’s Day party, hundreds, if not thousands, are invited and also show up. Nobody wants to miss Patrick’s parties because everybody, all kinds of people from all kinds of places (uptown, downtown, Malibu, Mars) will be there. And, like Patrick, they will all be in a celebratory but GOOD mood. For Patrick exudes the upbeat. He loves introducing people to each other (and then he takes a picture – I’m not exaggerating).

A boy from Long Island, he’s been married and there’s a son – Liam – who’s now in his teens, who often can be seen taking everything in with his father. You can always spot him at an event, suited up, long hair brushed back down to his collar, always camera ready. He's met and known everybody on the passing cavalcade of the metropolis for the past almost thirty years (really!). His manner and bearing are so warm and friendly, some often mistake him for the host rather than the photog. And, in a way, it’s true.

However, the key to Patrick is that he’s a workhorse. He sees more of the city, after noontime, on any given day that most of us see in a lifetime. When he’s not working a party, or traveling from one to another, or on a plane traveling from one to another, or on his way to the dentist, he’s taking pictures. Of everything and everybody. You may even be in one of them. After the black-tie events in the big hotel ballrooms or museums or private parties, Patrick heads downtown to check out the scene until the wee hours. Always with his camera.

The result is a fantastic body of work, a historical record, as it were, of New York nightlife in the last quarter of the 20th Century and now into the new century, of New York nightlife, that is without peer.

What else does he do with his life? When would he have any time? His work is now finding its way into books, collections, archives of his nightly labors. Someone told me he bought himself a house out on the island to get away to. But the question is when would have time to get away to anything? He’s got a schedule that would wear you out just looking at it.