The Hummingbird: Patrick McMullan’s captured moments with Iconic New York Women

Patrick McMullan at Salomon Contemporary, Summer 2015.

By JAMES SALOMON October, 2019

Several years ago I heard a guy at a cocktail party tell his circle “I spend most of my time between Manhattan and the Hamptons. I live in Huntington.” I suppose that’s good for a chuckle, if you are familiar with Long Island both geographically and demographically. Better if you actually do live in Huntington, but I think this guy was wisecracking. Looking back, I wish my pal Patrick McMullan were there, because he actually did grow up in Huntington, and would have a lot to contribute to the conversation. 

But, as we know, Patrick contributes in immeasurable ways. I’ve known him for 20 years, always charming and affable with both the upstairs and downstairs folk, he is quite a marvel to watch. He’ll magically appear, pull up his lens, chit chat, you turn the other way and he’ll be across the room -- like a hummingbird, tapping into new flora, both feeding and pollinating at once. Life is a party for the life of the party.

I remember him telling me that back in the early 80s, Warhol looked at his big clunky camera and said “You’ll never get into Studio (54) with that thing. You’ll need something to put in your pocket.” The following day a messenger arrived at his apartment with an Olympus XA. 

Since then, Patrick has built a successful business based on millions of candid and posed moments that have been captured and archived; the latest and greatest personalities in art, entertainment, fashion, and just about anyone who likes a good soirée. It’s not always smooth sailing. Every now and then a plate will get broken, people fight, the lights go out unexpectedly for a while, someone gets stuck in an elevator, but we all try to keep calm and carry on, hang on with our friends and try to have a laugh as we get through the night. Patrick is there as a witness and participant.

His talents bring us to the women that are celebrated and honored in his current exhibition entitled “Glamour, Grit, and Grace: Portraits of Iconic New York Women”, on view through December at Lafayette 148 New York Townhouse, 956 Madison @ 75th Street.

One of Patrick’s muses, Amy Sacco, is the embodiment of makin’ it in the Big Apple with glamour, grit, and grace. When I moved to New York in 1999, Amy had Lot 61, the hottest hotspot in town. Damien Hirst had a dot painting hanging as if just part of the décor at a time when Saatchi and YBA was all anyone could talk about. After that came Bungalow 8, also iconic, and other successful projects to keep the glamour set busy and entertained.  

I caught up with Amy, who is now developing the first members only Aman Club for Aman Resorts at their NYC hotel and residences, slated to open Fall 2020. “Patrick is such a great photographer partially because of his genuineness and ability to make you feel comfortable. He can get your most flattering angles or make you get campy even in a formal setting.” She continues, “Everybody thinks that when I was getting started I already knew all these people -- truth is, Patrick introduced me to half of them along the way!”

Patrick’s photos will be auctioned to benefit Bring Change to Mind from December 3rd through the 17th, exclusively at  Bring Change to Mind is co-founded by Glenn Close to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness. For more information on this important subject, please visit .

I’ll let the pictures do the talking from here on in. WM

Julianne Moore, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kate Winslet, October 2007 

Sarah Jessica Parker, June 2003

Christy Turlington, February 1994

Padma Lakshmi, Iman, September 2006

 Drew Barrymore, April 2009
 Brooke Shields, Angela Janklow, February 2011 

Rosie Perez, Helena Christensen, June 2004

Marisa Tomei, March 2010

Keri Russell, March 1999

Sara Switzer, Sandra Bernhard, April 2004

Isabella Rossellini, March 1986
 Debi Mazar, August 1999 

Amy Sacco, November 2005

Glenn Close, October 1987

Trudie Styler, Mickey Sumner, May 2005 

Susan Sarandon, September 2012 

Juliana Margulies, May 2002

Marisa Berenson, May 2009

Grace Jones, April 1986

Jill Kargman, Drew Barrymore, April 2017

Debbie Harry, 1989 
 Stephanie Seymour, February 2000

Liza Minelli, October 1989 

Cyndi Lauper, August 1989 

Patricia Clarkson, Anne Hathaway, May 2006 

Emmy Rossum, January 2013

Jenny Lumet, January 1987

Michelle Williams, Claire Danes, February 1999

Lisa Edelstein, 1980s

Julie Taymor, Gina Gershon, Nora Ephron, May, 2002

Fran Lebowitz, December 1983

Christie Brinkley, April 2009


James Salomon

James Salomon is the Director of Achille Salvagni America in NYC. He occasionally takes photographs and tells stories for Whitehot and various art and lifestyle publications.

Photo: Lori Hawkins


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