Tony Notarberardino: Chelsea Hotel Portraits

Mar 9 - Apr 13, 2024
Press release
ACA Galleries is thrilled to present “Chelsea Hotel Portraits” the first public presentation of photographer Tony Notarberardino’s iconic black and white portraits of the extraordinary individuals drawn to The Chelsea Hotel, shot over the course of the past 25 years.
Raised in Melbourne by Italian emigrant parents, Notarberardino arrived at The Chelsea Hotel in 1994, and never left. A New York City landmark, built in 1884 this Victorian Gothic building on West 23rd Street was one of the few remaining bohemian refuges in a fast and ever-changing city, and played host to legendary artistic collaborations, boundary-breaking performances, and so much more. 
The unique characters that both lived in and frequented the hotel inspired Notarberardino to begin capturing portraits. The photographer recounts the moment the series came to life: “At 4am one night in September 1997, I was inside the Chelsea Hotel elevator returning home when suddenly a hand adorned with long, painted fingernails blocked it from closing. In walked an aged drag queen carrying more shopping bags than she could manage while holding the hand of a six-year-old boy. After four years of letting these moments pass by, I introduced myself and asked if I could photograph her. Without hesitation, she agreed.” 
Notarberardino’s portrait series captures the atmosphere of authenticity by documenting the remarkably rich visual cast of characters that pass through the hotel's doors daily. He photographs all portraits with a large format 8X10 black and white film on his vintage 1960s Toyo-View 810GII in the hallway of his apartment, the former residence of Australian artist Vali Myers. From counter cultural icons to the lesser known, the series stands as a definitive document of the people who made the landmark so unique, leaving audiences with a last glimpse of the subterranean romance of The Chelsea Hotel. 
Notarberardino has documented over 1500 portraits, including: Arthur. C. Clarke, Dee Dee Ramone, Sam Shepard, Grace Jones, Elias Jose Reranos, Abel Ferrara, Storme Delarverie, Victor Bockris, Rose Wood, Steven Baldwin, Debbie Harry, Frank Roth, Mary Ellen Mark, Arnold Weinstein, Ron Jeremy, Amanda Lepore, Shalom Harlow, Peter Sarsgaard, Susan Bartsch, Selinie Luna, Ira Cohen, Lola Schnabel, Dirty Martini, Maria Beatty, Bruce Levingston, and Stanley Bard. 
Tony Notarberardino (b. Melbourne, Australia) is a New York-based artist. He graduated from Melbourne Photographic College with a BA in Film and Fine Arts. For twenty years, Notarberardino worked as an editorial photographer for Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Elle, and GQ. In 2002, he debuted his film titled The Host at the Tribeca Film Festival, which was awarded Best Short Film at the AFI Australian Film Awards and Best Cinematographer at the Melbourne Film Festival. His most recent film, The Erotic Dreams of The Chelsea Hotel, premiered at the Anthology Film Center in 2017 and was awarded Best Short Film at the CineKink Film Festival.
  • Tony Notarberardino Donny Vommit and Heather Swollows, 2010
    Tony Notarberardino
    Donny Vommit and Heather Swollows, 2010