ANNA-LOU 'ANNIE' LEIBOVITZ (Born 1949)

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KATE MOSS FOR 'AMERICAN VOGUE', OCTOBER 1999 by ANNA-LOU 'ANNIE' LEIBOVITZ (Born 1949) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

KATE MOSS FOR 'AMERICAN VOGUE', OCTOBER 1999

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P.O.A

   

Annie Leibovitz is a leading American photographer who is best known for her elaborately staged celebrity portraits. Over forty years, principally working for Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, Leibovitz has conceived and executed hundreds of cover pictures that have often become their subject's defining image.

Born in Connecticut on 2 October 1949, Leibovitz was the third child to Marilyn and Samuel Leibovitz. Her mother was a dance instructor, and her father was a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force. At Northwood High School she developed an interest in art, and so went on to study painting at the San Francisco Art Institute.

In 1970 Leibovitz photographed Allen Ginsberg at a peace rally, and submitted them to Rolling Stone magazine. The art editor was so impressed that he introduced her to the magazine's founder, Jann Werner. A year later, after she had graduated from college, Werner hired Leibovitz on a permanent contract. Within three years she was the chief photographer.

A glittering early career followed which included two years on tour with The Rolling Stones from 1975, and an exhausting schedule producing covers for the magazine on a bi-weekly basis. This resulted in portraits of numerous musicians and celebrities, many of which have since become iconic none more so than her 1980 cover featuring a naked John Lennon and a fully clothed Yoko Ono embracing on the floor.

As her career progressed she became known for her fanatical attention to detail and vigorous work ethic. Leibovitz would regularly exhaust her subjects with long, drawn-out shoots, often late into the night. She would continue until she felt she had got the shot', often enabling her to tease out something of her subject's true personality in the process. Leibovitz's personal style also developed from politically engaged photojournalism in the early years to a more polished, light- hearted, intimate portraiture by the late 1970s. It was to be the look that became associated with Rolling Stone, and one that she would develop further working for other magazines in the 1980s and 90s.

In 1983 she moved from Rolling Stone to Vanity Fair, having been hired by its hotshot female editor, Tina Brown. New to the role herself, Brown set about reinvigorating the magazine with better journalism and photography, the latter being provided by Leibovitz and other photographers such as Harry Benson and Helmut Newton. As a project it was a huge success, and Brown took readership up from 200,000 to 1.2 million.

During this process Leibovitz became one of the most celebrated photographers in the world. The magazine would finance exceptionally complicated and expensive shoots that involved huge quantities of equipment and dozens of crew being flown around the world. Leibovitz rarely focused on the bottom-line, and instead pursued the perfect shot, whatever the cost. She photographed a host of stars and many of these often elaborately conceived images, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger on skis at the top of an Idaho ski-slope, or Whoopi Goldberg in a bath of milk, helped to grab the attention of customers in newsagents around the world.

Leibovitz has continued to work for Vanity Fair ever since, although she also began a relationship with Vogue in 1998. She has become known in more recent years for her dramatic cover and spreads for Vanity Fair's annual Hollywood' Issue. Despite being one of the world's highest paid photographers, Leibovitz encountered financial difficulties in the late 2000s and was forced to refinance her debts by offering her entire archive as security.

Leibovitz has had retrospectives in museums and galleries around the world, and her books include Annie Leibovitz: Photographs (1983), Photographs: Annie Leibovitz 1970 1990 (1991), Olympic Portraits (1996), Women (1999), American Music (2003), A Photographer's Life: 1990 2005 (2006), Annie Leibovitz at Work (2008), and Pilgrimage (2011).

Leibovitz was in a long-term relationship with the writer and intellectual, Susan Sontag, until Sontag's death in 2004. She has three children, and lives in New York.

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