Each of the extraordinary portraits made by photographer Annie Leibovitz for her book Women stands on its own. Looked at together, these "photographs of people with nothing more in common than that they are women (and living in America at the end of the twentieth century), all--well almost all--fully clothed," writes Susan Sontag in the book's preface, form "an anthology of destinies and disabilities and new possibilities." Leibovitz, who in her years working for Rolling Stone, Vogue, and Vanity Fair magazines has photographed hundreds of celebrities, turns her lens on a wide range of ordinary and extraordinary female subjects: coal miners, socialites, first ladies, artists, domestic-violence victims, an astronaut, a surgeon, a maid. What she creates is a reflection of contemporary American womanhood that mirrors both women's accomplishments and the challenges they still face individually and as a group.
Leibovitz demonstrates her own range as a photographer in this body of work, shooting in the studio and natural settings and working in both black-and-white and color film. She depicts model Jerry Hall wearing a little black dress, a fur coat, and high heels, staring frankly at the viewer from a velvet chair in a plush red parlor while her naked infant son nurses from her exposed right breast. Schoolteacher Lamis Srour's eyes--the only part of her face visible behind her heavy black veil--illuminate a dark black-and-white portrait. Leibovitz frames actress Elizabeth Taylor and her dog Sugar by their shocks of snow-white hair. She captures four Kilgore College Rangerettes, a drill team, at the apex of their kicks--white-booted legs pointing up, obscuring their faces and revealing the red underpants beneath their blue miniskirts. There are many more wonderful and unexpected images here, over 200 in all. The delight in discovering them awaits readers. --Jordana Moskowitz
The photographs by Annie Leibovitz in Women, taken especially for the book, encompass a broad spectrum of subjects: a rap artist, an astronaut, two Supreme Court justices, farmers, coal miners, movie stars, showgirls, rodeo riders, socialites, reporters, dancers, a maid, a general, a surgeon, the First Lady of the United States, the secretary of state, a senator, rock stars, prostitutes, teachers, singers, athletes, poets, writers, painters, musicians, theater directors, political activists, performance artists, and businesswomen. "Each of these pictures must stand on its own," Susan Sontag writes in the essay that accompanies the portraits. "But the ensemble says, So this what women are now -- as different, as varied, as heroic, as forlorn, as conventional, as unconventional as this."
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