Big book in a small pond: Annie Leibovitz

BooksWords  by Billie Jenkins

Annie Leibovitz: Annie’s Big Book, Taschen

It racks in at £1,750, comes with its own stand, and has four different covers depicting infamous images of Whoopi Goldberg, Patti Smith, Kieth Harring and David Byrne respectively. But then any book really doing justice to the career of a woman who is both one of the finest in her field and the only photographer to survive going on tour with the Rolling Stones is going to have to be bold. There are also written contributions by Han Ulrich Obrist of the Sepantine Gallery, author Paul Roth, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter and Steve Martin (Obviously Cheaper by the Dozen 4 wasn’t taking up too much of his time).

Her CV reads like a short history of the photography of modern culture, which it should do because she has set the standard. Her first assignment for Rolling Stone, capturing John Lennon, made the cover; and she goes on to take the last portrait of him before his murder a decade later. Her editor Jann Wenner states “For ten years, she dominated the look and the feel of Rolling Stone”, a cultural marker for portrait photography if there ever was one. She has produced 41 Vogue covers. She took the iconic image of a naked, pregnant Demi Moore for Vanity Fair. She is Olympic photographer, and presidents photographers alike; as well as having Queen Elizabeth II in her little black book. That in mind the size of the book doesn’t really do her justice. It is saddening through that very few will get to view it, the rest of us who see the price tag a little extravagant for a book must continue trawling the internet and grabbing to few opportunities we get to see curated collections. That said however Leibovitz influence is all around us, so at least there is something we can share.


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