Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Annie Leibovitz: The Wizard of OZ Portfolio

John Currin dressed in a silver suit, raised axe in hand stands over a startled Keira Knightly.  White evening gown and tiara adorned Kara Walker backed by the Penn State Marching Band face a humbled Keira Knightly. A horrified, fearful Keira Knightly is whisked away by a winged, furry Jeff Koons as another winged furry Jeff Koons follows. “The Lion in Winter” Jasper Johns perches, stately above an awed Keira Knightly. The Annie Leibovitz treatment of the L. Frank Baum novel turned film has never been so in vogue as when it appeared in the December 2005 issue of “Vogue.” This portfolio rocked the world and especially the “Art World.” Leibovitz is famous for her photo spreads and celebrity portraits but it is rare to almost non-existent for “A-List” artistic luminaries to be featured as stars in such a mass media venue. All the stops were pulled out for this one as Annie; such a prolific and passionate professional scores big.  She rarely misses. She is on target and in her best form with her OZ fantasy photographs.
Leibovitz began he career in the early Seventies. Rolling Stone magazine was her first home. Her photos chronicled the celebrities and events of our times like no other. She is among the select few to be both an artistic and commercial success. Her timely portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, The nude/ pregnant Demi Moore, the milk bath Whoopi Goldberg and the “Blue” Blues Brothers are classics. Leibovitz always goes to the next level and even a little farther with her works that are often theatrical vignettes. She is able to get to the hearts of her subjects and they reveal much of themselves to Annie as with no other photographer. Leibovitz’s work graced and defined “The Cover of the Rolling Stone” for years. She was to move on to Vanity Fair, Vogue, the Disney Corporation and other clients. Her body of work is unmatched or surpassed. Leibovitz is embraced by generations and she continues to work and grow touching all forms of photography with her unique vision.
Her massive book; “Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005” is a major success for her. It is the best selling photography book of all time. It features both professional and personal works. Her relationship with Susan Sontag is a main feature of the book and much is reveled about Annie in the pictures and minimal amount of text. She draws no distinction between her life and vocation. I was able to see her exhibition following the release of her book at the Corcoran in Washington DC. As expected it was a treasure and a great joy. 

The Wizard of OZ portfolio; complete and impressive as a standalone piece is in many ways a small sample of this woman’s greatness.  There is much more to her body of work that is still growing. Leibovitz continually amazes as she informs and entertains. Her captured moments are precise and decisive. Everything a world class talent should be; is she.