www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 15, March 2001
Deutsche Ausgabe  Archiv  Kunst  Film  Musik  Geschichte  Politik  Lebensart  Reisen
English edition  Archives  Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  Lifestyle  Travel

Copyright 2001  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.


Annie Leibovitz: Barbara Bush.
Former First Lady. Copyright.
 

Annie Leibovitz: Frances McDormand
Actress, New York City. Copyright.
 

Annie Leibovitz: Haydee and Sahara Scull.
Painters. Miami Beach, Florida
. Copyright.
  

Annie Leibovitz
. Women
 
Annie Leibovitz and Susan Sontag: Women. Hardcover, Random House, November 1999, 239 p. and over 100 portraits. Get it from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr.
Exhibition catalogue text by Susan Sontag.
- Miami Art Museum until March 4, 2001
- Friends of Photography, San Francisco May 8 - July 15, 2001
- Seattle Art Museum September 20, 2001 - January 6, 2002

Article added on March 3, 2001
  
Annie Leibovitz is one of the most celebrated (female) photographers. Her portraits have been appearing in magazines for over 25 years. She started as a photographer for Rolling Stone magazine and works for Vanity Fair and Vogue. Her first book, Annie Leibovitz: Photographers, was published in 1981. Eight years later, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., presented the first retrospective of her work and Annie Leibovitz: Photographs 1970-1990 was published. In October 1999, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington presented the present exhibition in conjunction with the publication of Women, the book accompanying the current exhibition at the Miami Art Museum which will travel on to San Francisco and Seattle.
 
Susan Sontag has distinguished herself with several novels and essays translated into 23 languages. She has also written and directed four feature-length films and directed plays in the United States and Europe. In 1977, she published the essay On Photography. Therefore, the accomplished critic has been familiar with photography for a long time. Her 17-page essay on women introduces the reader to the more than 100 photographs by Annie Leibovitz presented in the catalogue.
 
Women is an exhibition and book with powerful photographs of women living in America at the end of the 20th century. It is, according to Susan Sontag, "an anthology of destinies and disabilities and new possibilities...".
 
Annie Leibovitz' portraits of women have a very wide range. She documents domestic assault, "the leading cause of injuries to American women", with portraits of victims of domestic violence. She goes beyond the stereotypes of female beauty, but of course also presents models of beauty such as Jerry Hall, sportswomen like Marion Jones and the tennis stars Martina Navratilova and the Williams sisters. Besides models of self-esteem and strength, there are models of transgressiveness, victimhood, false consciousness, successful and unsuccessful aging.
 
Women in politics take a prominent place. Not only the wives of former President Bush and Ford, former First Lady Barbara Bush and Betty Ford, Chairman of the Betty Ford Center are featured, but also then first Lady and today's New York Senator Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Senator Barbara Boxer. Among the "power women" one also counts Kathleen M. Sullivan, Dean at Stanford University Law School, Martha Nussbaum, Professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago and Carly Fiorina, President and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, photographed in her company jet.
 
Among the unknown, representing the "average", working class women, are three soldiers, two bull riders, five coal miners, a waitress and a washerwoman. Among the actresses, one finds Susan Sarandon, Sigourney Weaver, Frances McDormand and the ever-present Elizabeth Taylor with her dog Sugar. Among the other artists are Cindy Sherman, Yoko Ono, Louise Bourgeois, Agnes Martin, Haydee and Sahara Scull.
 
A highlight of the exhibition and catalogue are the portraits of showgirls, who are once portrayed in their glamorous outfits and once as "ordinary" woman; these are striking oppositions.
 
According to Susan Sontag: "Just as photography has done so much to confirm these stereotypes [about women in the past], it can engage in complicating and undermining them." That is exactly what Annie Leibovitz tried to do. As Susan Sontag puts it: "It's for us to decide what to make of these pictures. After all, a photograph is not an opinion. Or is it?"

 

www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 15, March 2001
Deutsche Ausgabe  Archiv  Kunst  Film  Musik  Geschichte  Politik  Lebensart  Reisen
English edition  Archives  Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  Lifestyle  Travel

Copyright 2001  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.