Thursday, April 2, 2009

In the Eyes of Annie Leibovitz

When talking about Annie Leibovitz, the two images one would associate with are probably: the Rolling Stone cover of John and Yoko lying together, the last photo of John taken a few hours before his was shot, and the controversial Vanity Fair cover of Demi Moore’s nude pregnant body.

After watching a documentary on Annie and reading her book Annie Leibovitz at Work, I got more insights into her life and photography. Besides the famous celebrity photos for the magazines, her works also touch upon broader themes such as social and political events and natural landscapes. In the book she reveals how each well-known photograph was made. She is not only good at staging the characters in a symbolic setting relevant to ones’ artistic identity, but also has a sharp eye in capturing the very charm in one’s natural state.

One appealing photo from the documentary is the surrealistic portrait of Isabella Rossellini and David Lynch, both my favorite characters. The photo stands as a perfect metaphor of the uninterpretable and dreamlike quality of Lynch’s films. Lynch's face is hidden behind the black mask, which seems to imply the fact that he has always resisted interpreting his works.

When browsing the book, I was excited to find a photo of 94-year-old Philip Johnson in his Glass House. Interested in architecture, Annie went to photograph the Glass House one day and Johnson happened to be there. The photo thus came by accident, which captured a meditative quality in the architectural space, surrounding landscape and the person.


ptbkr said...

I saw an exhibition at LACMA with some of her works last month. There is a video of her photo session with George Clooney, the process is very entertaining and funny in itself. I was also surprised by how heavy the post processing of all those photos for magazine cover, almost like the 19th century picture coloring. My question is, is it "easier" to photograph a celebrity because he is already good looking and iconic so whatever you do will look fabulous and considered artistic? : )

XENIA said...

The fabulous looks of celebrities definitely make their photos more seductive. But I do like many of Annie's ideas behind the making of the photos. Her sharp vision either creates or exaggerates the charm of celebrities.

Cissy said...

The Philip Johnson photo is just wonderful! How did she get so famous anyway?