Annie Leibovitz on women
The Vanity Fair and Vogue photographer makes women the subject of her
By HANS IBOLD
Express Staff Writer
Could we be perched on what will one day be called the Millennium of
the Woman? After flipping through the pages of Annie Leibovitz's new book of photography, Women,
the answer is doubtlessly "yes."
For over 25 years, Leibovitzs portraits have graced popular
magazines. She began her exceptional career as a photographer for Rolling Stone and now
has a longstanding relationship with Vanity Fair and Vogue.
The portraits in Women, taken especially for the book, reveal
the diversity of women today and speak to an ongoing revolution in the status of women in
But that doesnt mean that all of the women Leibovitz captured are
triumphant, empowered and content. Indeed, readers can expect the unexpected when turning
the pages of Women. In the studio and in natural settings, Leibovitz got up close
and personal with an array of women.
She depicts actress Christina Ricci reclined on what might be a hotel
bed wearing panties, smoking a cigarette, and looking pensive and, on the following page,
philanthropist Brooke Astor looking resplendent in her New York home.
She shows musician Melissa Etheridge with her companion, music video
director and screen writer Julie Cypher, and their two children, Bailey and Beckett
Cypheridge, naked and smiling blissfully. A less wholesome picture of maternity shows
Jerry Hallwearing a fur coat and high heelsnursing a naked Gabriel Jagger.
She shows three teenage members of the West Side Crips all-girl gang
hanging out on a stoop in San Antonio, Texas. With their dark lipstick, football jerseys,
baggy jeans, basketball shoes and bandannas, they look menacing. But a closer look at
their eyes reveals something else, a profound sadness.
A page before the Crips, at a conference table in front of a map of the
world, sits Claudia Kennedy, Lieutenant General U.S. Army and Deputy Chief of Staff for
Intelligence at the Pentagon, in uniform, clinching her armchair and smiling sheepishly.
She depicts the model Waris Dirie looking poised, whose story, along
with all of the women photographed for the book, is told briefly in the back of the book.
Dirie grew up in Somalia and at age 5 underwent infibulation, which involves the removal
of the external genitalia and the narrowing of the vaginal opening. She got discovered by
a photographer while scrubbing floors in a London McDonalds and has since been
photographed widely, including as one of Revlons "Most Beautiful Women."
In 1997, she became the special ambassador for the elimination of female genital
mutilation for the United Nations Population Fund.
"Each of these pictures must stand on its own," writes Susan
Sontag in the essay that accompanies the photographs. "But the ensemble says, So this
is what women are nowas different, as varied, as heroic, as forlorn, as
conventional, as unconventional as this."
Women arrived in most local bookstores last week.