Annie Leibovitz (born 1949) is one of the most successful photographers of the present day. She made her name with photographs of celebrities taken on assignments from magazines and advertising agencies. In her finest works, Leibovitz goes beyond the bounds of a commercial shoot, creating memorable, heart-stirring images of personalities and the age.
Beginning with coverage of life in the music industry for the magazine Rolling Stone, Leibovitz soon became one of the foremost portrait photographers and received high-priced, prestigious commissions from the “dictators” of style and fashion – the magazines Vogue and Vanity Fair. Politicians, stars of show business, civic activists, members of the intellectual elite and royalty have all found themselves in front of her lens. Leibovitz prefers not to work in the studio, but on location, having her models pose in a familiar, lived-in setting. In her finest portraits, background details become the chief witnesses, revealing more about the subject’s way of life and character.
Leibovitz is involved with the world of the society page and has herself repeatedly become its focus. The circumstances of her private and professional life, successes and failures in her work have been explored time and again by the tabloid press. The exhibition project “A Photographer’s Life” that was shown in the Hermitage in 2011 was devoted to the uneasy interweaving of public and private spheres, work and personal life. It was based on Leibovitz’s own domestic archive: shots of family and friends mixed in with commissioned portraits. In these frank photographic memoirs, images drawn from different spheres come together to form a contradictory whole, united only by Leibovitz’s professional camerawork. In memory of that exhibition, the photographer donated nine of her works to the museum.