Art & Expression: Annie Leibovitz
The protagonist of Art & Expression of this month is one of my favourite photographers. Carful look, big eyeglasses and camera in hand. This is what I see when I look at Annie Leibovitz. With her Woody Allen woman face, she is considered, rigthly, the greatest photographer of our time. Her works revolutionized the concept of photo, proposing a new way to conceive the portait, telling the mood of the subject, the look behind him.
In 40 years of carreer she photographeed everything and everyone, trying to focus on her idea, playing with the subject, drawing a frame, an artifact panorama that, in the end, looks almost more real that the picture. Her style is unique and recognizable: it has a story, a thought, it follows a specific path. Annie Leibovitz is a character, a trademark, non just a picture, with a huge a visual talent, capacity of invention and innovation, a big mania and self-awaraness. She han an intense personality that transpires in her works; in her pictures, in fact, is possible to see all her world: music, art, fashion and fantasy.
She starts her carreer in her early twenties in th eprestigious magazine Rolling Stone where she will stay until 1980. 1970 is, however, a really important year for Leibovitz, because she has the chance to realize her fist important photo to John Lennon and because they give her the oppotunity to follow as phptpgrapher the band of Mick Jagger and Co. during their tour, taking some of her emblematic pictures. In 1980 she interrupts her experience at Rolling Stone. These are the years of some of her most famous photos like the one that portrays the actress Meryl Streep in the shoes of a mime; or the one of the couple Yoko Ono - John Lennon. Until that moment everyone tought that he was the big artist between them but Annie photographed him naked, hugging Yoko totally dressed. That's a kind of submission, a gesture of love, an absolute devotion in what appears to be a day like many others and that will be, insted, the last day of his life. This picture represents a reveral of roles that completely revolutionizes the idea that everyone had of them, that goes countercurrent.
Annie Leibovitz has done a lot of pictures like these: Demi Moore completely naked with a male suit printed on her body, Woopi Goldberg immersed in a tank full of milk, or Sting in the desert just covered in mud. Taking a look to her pictures is visible how nehind every photo there's a study of the character, often even friendship and complicity. The characters rely on her, trusting her her genius more than themselves.
Her art, her way to conceive and build the photos have earned her many committents and awards and made her bring to fashion world. Some of her photoshoots, in fact, remain as milestones of fashion system: from the photoshoot inspired by Alice in Wonderland (with the supermodel Natalia Vodianova in the shoes of Alice and some of the biggest contemporary designers, from John Galliano to Karl Lagerfeld, in the role of the most emblematic characters like the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar and the Heart Queen) to the one inspired by The Wizard of Oz (with Keira Knightley in the shoes of Dorothy), passing by the one inspired by Sophia Coppola's movie Marie Antoinette realized in the amazing rooms of Versailles, with a beautiful Kirsten Dunst in the role of the young queen.
The union between fashion and fairytales is a huge source of inspiration for Leibovitz that realize a series of portaits inspired by the characters of Disney's animated movies intepreted by several celebrities from cinema, music, sport and fashion like Penelope Cruz, Rachel Weiz, Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, David Beckham, Gisele Bundchen and others.
Other amazing photos are made in 2007 when she realizes a series of pictures to Queen Elizabeth II and the prinicipal photoshoot of the special edition of Vanity Fair dedicated to Hollywood, for which she does a series of photos that tell a story of a noir movie. Then follow othr great works like the photoshoot inspired by Hansel and Gretel (with Lily Cole, Andrew Garfield and Lady Gaga), the one inspired by Romeo and Juliet (with Roberto Bolle and Coco Rocha) and the one inspired by the the tv show Sex and The City (with Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Note)
A life full of profession and private successes but also signed by difficulties like the death of the love of her life, Susan Sontang who she assists during all the course of the disease, photographing every single moments, almost to have more time... "Life through a lens", just like the title of a documentary dedicated to her, that is told in the book "Annie Leibovitz. At work".