ANNIE LEIBOVITZ FEATURE
recognised me. That was unsettling. though I‘m enjoying seeing my work exhibited in a place like the National Portrait Gallery. Just to see the banners outside with my name on them was pretty thrilling. Talking about myself is something new too. though it has helped me put things in perspective. I now realise that the work I do reflects a specific era. What I did in the 70s looks like the 70s. It has a more natural. relaxed feel. Suddenly. in the mid to late 80s. it gets big and fat and conceptual. What was expected of me was the bright colours and people jumping up and down. It had become so set up. I was beginning to feel a little stilted. By stopping and looking at the work. I realised the early work had a purity you only get with the reportage style.‘
This might explain why Leibovitz has recently tackled heavier topics in her pictures. She photographed women living with HIV/AIDS in San Francisco and has also been to Sarajevo twice. ‘lt's hard to talk about this. anything you say sounds glib and pretentious. Words can’t express everything that happens there. The pictures do a better job though I‘m not trying to hit anyone over the head with them. even ifl photographed the bicycle left on the road after a mortar had killed the man who was riding it. I had no assistant. no electricity. so I went back to natural light. It was like trying to crawl back to where I started. I definitely want my portrait work to have more social comment but I don’t want to dismiss the more conceptual work with high-production values. I want a balance. I want to be able to do both. The first time I went to Sarajevo. I came back and went straight out to Los Angeles to do Sylvester Stallone and I think I took a stronger picture of him than I would have otherwise. The two can feed into each other.’
From the underground to the establishment. Annie Leibovitz‘s photographs provide a fascinating reflection of the last two decades. And a few lessons . . . Ll Annie Lcibovit: Photographs 1970—90 is (it the National Portrait Gallery I 7 Juno—3 / July.
Mlck Jagger, New York, 1975
‘Mlck asked me to document thelr tour. I never let my camera down, to sort of remlnd everyone what I was there to do and maybe even to remlnd myself. This ls Mick In an elevator 90an up or down atter a concert.’
Arnold 8”an me ‘I just had to capture Arnold Scum-agar on the lone he‘d loot bought. Yholr muscles and Wyatt-chm m to liontlcol.‘
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