There are the paparazzi and then there’s Dafydd Jones. As one has become increasingly shameless about the quality of its subjects, and the lengths they’ll go to to snap them, the other has gone down a more selective road.
In his own discreet way Dafydd has been capturing off-beat moments between some of the most colourful personalities at the most exclusive parties, predominantly in London and New York, for three decades.
Catching his lucky break in the early Eighties, the softly-spoken photographer found himself capturing off-duty rock stars and models for cult style magazine Ritz Newspaper and equally badly behaved toffs and Sloanes for Tatler.
But it has been the art world that has fascinated Dafydd the most. In the early days, when he used his quiet charm to wangle his way into events and art establishments that no one else had managed to, artists like Lucien Freud – who once physically jumped in surprise when Dafydd pressed the shutter – were a rare thing at social gatherings.
Apart from the odd debauched evening such as the Chelsea Arts Club Summer Ball in 1981 which featured topless dancing girls, art happenings were usually rather stuffy affairs. But then, as alcohol and sponsorship were introduced at private views around the mid-Eighties, all that began to change. Suddenly, wherever Gilbert & George, David Hockney or Keith Haring went a gaggle of art groupies would follow, ready to party.
An exhibition of Dayfdd’s images at Idea Generation Gallery reminds us that, with the emergence of YBAs in the mid Nineties and the volatile love affair between art and money that continues to this day, artists and their entourages have been having all kinds of fun. From the launch of the Tate Modern to Damien Hirst’s infamous shows at White Cube, and from the Serpentine Summer Party to Frieze Art Fair Dafydd’s lens hasn’t missed much.
As the photographer himself says: “The art world knows how to party and make the most of having a good time. A bunch of rich bankers would be dull. But the mixture of suits, collectors, socialites and artists always makes for a good bash and a great set of shots.”