It Seems Like Yesterday: Leo Castelli (Video)

Already a legend when we met on a wet autumn day in 1979 at a restaurant in SoHo, Leo Castelli was sitting at an outdoor table with his handsome Dalmatian, Paddy, by his side.

The art dealer extraordinaire, known for his cutting-edge eye in discovering incredible new talents, had moved his uptown gallery to SoHo around 1971. I photographed him sitting outside the gallery at 420 West Broadway with Paddy, himself a living work of modern art. Castelli couldn’t get any better. He loved his dog, who went everywhere with him.

Peter Schjeldahl wrote a terrific piece on Castelli in the June 7, 2010, issue of The New Yorker titled “Leo the Lion: How the Castelli gallery changed the art world.” Schjeldahl captured his essence better than anyone when he wrote: “Leo (almost no one who met him even once called him anything else) wielded custom-tailored ways of making people feel special—all people, because he crowned his Continental glamour with a faintly comic and completely endearing American-style openness.”

And it was true. Leo had the knack of making you feel special when you were with him—a rare talent that very few people have mastered. His life would make a brilliant film—from privileged birth to the twists and turns of a fascinating career peppered with a most colorful private life to boot!