Leibovitz, Annie

Born in 1949 in Waterbury, Connecticut, Leibovitz is the third of six children. Her father's parents had emigrated from Romania. Her mother, Marilyn Leibovitz, was a modern dance instructor of Estonian Jewish heritage; her father, Sam Leibovitz, was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force. The family moved frequently with her father's duty assignments, and she took her first pictures when she was stationed in the Philippines during the Vietnam War.

In high school, she became interested in various artistic endeavors, and began to write and play music. She attended the San Francisco Art Institute, where she studied painting. For several years, she continued to develop her photography skills while working various jobs, including a stint on a kibbutz in Amir, Israel, for several months in 1969. When Leibovitz returned to the United States in 1970, she started her career as staff photographer, working for the just launched Rolling Stone magazine. In 1973, publisher Jann Wenner named Leibovitz chief photographer of Rolling Stone, a job she would hold for 10 years. Leibovitz worked for the magazine until 1983, and her intimate photographs of celebrities helped define the Rolling Stone look. While working for Rolling Stone, Leibovitz became more aware of the other magazines. Richard Avedon's portraits were an important and powerful example in her life. She learned that you can work for magazines and still do your own personal work, which for her was the most important thing. It is much more intimate and tells a story for her as she works with people who love her and who will "Open their hearts and souls and lives to you."

Photographers such as Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson influenced her during her time at the San Francisco Art Institute. "Their style of personal reportage - taken in a graphic way - was what we were taught to emulate."

A major retrospective of Leibovitz's work was held at the Brooklyn Museum, Oct. 2006 – Jan. 2007. The retrospective was based on her book, Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005, and included many of her professional (celebrity) photographs as well as numerous personal photographs of her family, children, and partner Susan Sontag. This show, which was expanded to include three of the official portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, then went on the road for seven stops. It was on display in Washington and San Francisco. In February 2009 the exhibition was moved to Berlin, then to London, Paris and Amsterdam. The show included 200 photographs. At the exhibition, Leibovitz said that she doesn't have two lives, career and personal, but has one where assignments and personal pictures are all part of her works. This exhibition and her talk focused on her personal photographs and life.


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