Fine Art Photography Series
Annie Leibovitz

Biography of American Portrait Photographer.

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Annie Leibovitz (b.1949)


Annie Leibovitz's Photography
Famous Photos by Annie Leibovitz
Great Portrait Photographers

For more about the early inventions upon which Leibovitz's lens-based art is founded, see: History of Photography (c.1800-1900).

List of Famous Photos

Portrait of Demi Moore
Vanity Fair (August 1991)
Photographed by Annie Leibovitz.

John Lennon & Yoko Ono
Photographed by Annie Leibovitz.

Annie Leibovitz (2008).


For a brief outline of
camera and photographic
terminology, please see:

Art Photography Glossary.

For the Top 80 len-based
artists and inventors, see:
Photographers: 19th-Century.

Annie Leibovitz's Photography

One of the greatest photographers of American celebrities from the world of popular culture, politics and high society, Annie Leibovitz was the chief photographer at Rolling Stone magazine and, later, at Vanity Fair magazine. She has also produced covers and spreads for Vogue magazine. Her main contribution to fine art photography is her ability to produce fresh creative portraits that are in harmony both with the subjects in them and the people who look at them. It is this feeling for pop culture that turns her camera work into real art, and makes her one of the best portrait artists of the late 20th century. That said, like all the best postmodernist artists, she immerses herself in her work, and is noted for the meticulous preparation of her portrait sessions and the close consultation between her and her subjects. Influenced at an early stage by the work of camera artists Robert Frank (b.1924), Jacques-Henri Lartigue (1894-1986) and Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), Leibovitz is best-known for her studio portrait of a pregnant and nude Demi Moore, which appeared on the front cover of Vanity Fair (August, 1991), and her double portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, shot just 5 hours before Lennon's murder, which appeared on the front cover of Rolling Stone (January 22, 1981). She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her portrait art, including Photographer of the Year of the American Society of Magazine Photographers (1984). In 2009 she received The Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Medal in recognition of her contribution to the art of photography.


Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, Anna-Lou Leibovitz's great-grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. In 1970 she studies contemporary art and photography at San Francisco Art Institute. In the same year, she joins just-launched Rolling Stone magazine as a staff-photographer. Fortune smiles on her: her first photos are of John Lennon, which are published on the cover of the magazine a month later. In 1973 she is appointed chief photographer with Rolling Stone, a position she holds until she moves to Vanity Fair. During this period she is strongly influenced by the portraiture of Richard Avedon (1923-2004), and discovers that she can still create personal work within the confines of commercial photography. In 1981 she collaborates on the pilot issue of Vanity Fair, becoming its lead photographer two years later. As well as staged portraits of numerous celebrities, Leibovitz also produces photographs for a number of ad-campaigns, including the much admired campaigns for American Express (1987) and the Gap fashion company (1988). In 1991, Leibovitz has a solo exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC, becoming only the second living portraitist to exhibit there. In 1998, she moved to Vogue magazine, while continuing her high profile independent projects. In 2006, she published a photographic memoir entitled - "Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life: 1990-2005".

For a brief guide to the aesthetics and artistic nature of camera work, please see: Is Photography Art?

Selected Exhibitions

1983 New York (Sidney Janis Gallery)
1986 Buenos Aries (Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie)
1991 New York (International Center of Photography)
1991 Washington DC (National Portrait Gallery)
1992 Paris (Palais de Tokyo)
1994 Rochester (New York) (George Eastman House)
1999 Washington DC (National Portrait Gallery)
2001 Paris (Galerie Kamel Mennour)
2005 Amsterdam (Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam)
2006 Berlin
2006 Detroit (The Detroit Institute of Arts)
2006 Brooklyn (New York) (Brooklyn Museum of Art) Major Retrospective.
2007 San Diego (San Diego Museum of Art)
2007 Washington DC (The Corcoran Gallery of Art)
2008 San Francisco (Palace of the Legion of Honor)
2008 Paris (Maison Europeenne de la photographie)
2008 London (National Portrait Gallery)

Famous Photos by Annie Leibovitz

• John Lennon and Yoko Ono (Dec 1980)
• Meryl Streep with cosmetic face-pack (1981)
• Christo Javacheff fully wrapped (1981)
• Lauren Hutton lying in mud (1981)
• Bruce Springsteen (Born in the USA album cover) (1984)
• Demi Moore nude, pregnant (Aug 1991)
• Demi Moore nude with a suit painted on her body (Aug 1992)
• Keira Knightley, Scarlett Johansson, nude, with a clothed Tom Ford (2006)

In addition, she has created portraits of celebrities such as: Whoopi Goldberg; David Cassidy; Dolly Parton and Arnold Schwarzenegger; Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi; Leonardo DiCaprio; Pete Townshend; Sting; Cyndi Lauper; Michael Jackson; Johnny Depp and Kate Moss; Lance Armstrong; Lady Gaga; Rihanna; Bill Gates; Barack Obama; and Queen Elizabeth II. Her photography of leading women has associated her with feminist art, although she herself is not thought to be an active member of the feminism movement.

Photographs by Annie Leibovitz are regularly shown in the best galleries of contemporary art across Europe and America.

Great Portrait Photographers

For other renowned len-based artists best-known for their portraits, please see the following forthcoming articles.

Cecil Beaton (1904-1980)
Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002)
Norman Parkinson (1913-90)
Hans Namuth (1915-90)
Diane Arbus (1923-1971)
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Larry Burrows (1926-71)
David Bailey (b.1938)
Steve McCurry (born 1950)
Cindy Sherman (b.1954)

• For another camera-based artform, see: Video Art.
• For more about portrait photographers, see: Homepage.

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