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Annie Leibovitz. The Early Years. 1970–1983

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Annie Leibovitz began working as a photographer in the early 1970s, which was a volatile and frenetic time in America. The lines had yet to be drawn between journalists and the people they covered, so she had access that would now be considered unusual. This unique collection provides a vivid account both of Leibovitz’s development as an artist and of a pivotal era.

The Origins of a Legendary Photographer

Annie Leibovitz’s photographic beginnings and Rolling Stone reportage
For more than half a century, Annie Leibovitz has been taking culture-defining photographs. Her portraits of politicians, performers, athletes, businesspeople, and royalty make up a gallery of our time, imprinted on our collective consciousness by both the singularity of their subjects and Leibovitz’s inimitable style.

The catalogue to an installation at the LUMA Foundation in Arles, France, Annie Leibovitz: The Early Years, 1970–1983 returns to Leibovitz’s origins. It begins with a moment of artistic revelation: the spontaneous shot that made Leibovitz think she could transition from painting to photography as her area of study at the San Francisco Art Institute. The meticulously and personally curated collection, including contact sheets and Polaroids, provides a vivid document both of Leibovitz’s development as a young artist and of a pivotal era.

Leibovitz’s reportage-like photo stories for Rolling Stone, which she began working for when she was still a student, record such heady political, cultural, and counter-cultural developments as the Vietnam War protests, the launch of Apollo 17, the presidential campaign of 1972, Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974, and the Rolling Stones on tour in 1975. Then, as now, Leibovitz won the trust of the prominent and famous, and the book’s pages are animated by many familiar faces, among them Muhammad Ali, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ken Kesey, Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Joan Didion, and Debbie Harry, as well as John Lennon and Yoko Ono, captured in their now iconic embrace just hours before Lennon was assassinated.

Throughout the book, the portraits and reportage are linked to images of cars, driving, and even a series on California highway patrolmen. In many ways, it’s a celebration of life on the road—the frenetic rhythms, the chance encounters, the meditative opportunities. And with its rich archival aspects, it is also a tribute to an earlier time and a young photographer enmeshed in a culture that was itself in transition.
The photographer

Annie Leibovitz is one of the most influential photographers of our time. She began working as a photojournalist for Rolling Stone in 1970 while she was still a student at the San Francisco Art Institute. By 1983, when she left Rolling Stone for the revived Vanity Fair, she was already closely identified with the conceptual, theatrical style that is her hallmark. In subsequent decades, at Vanity Fair and Vogue and in independent projects, she has worked across many photographic genres and developed a large body of work—portraits of actors, directors, writers, musicians, athletes, and political and business figures, as well as fashion photographs—that expanded her collective portrait of contemporary life. She has published several books and has exhibited widely. She is a Commandeur in the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and has been designated a Living Legend by the U.S. Library of Congress.

The authors

Luc Sante teaches writing and the history of photography at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and the recipient of the 2010 Infinity Award for Writing from the International Center of Photography.

Jann S. Wenner founded Rolling Stone in 1967. He has been inducted into the Hall of Fame of the American Society of Magazine Editors and is the recipient of the Norman Mailer Center’s Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Magazine Publishing.

Annie Leibovitz. The Early Years. 1970–1983
Hardcover, 8.5 x 10.6 in., 2.26 lb, 182 pages
ISBN 978-3-8365-7189-0
Multilingual Edition: English, French, German

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