Annie Leibovitz: Creating Magazine Controversy
Leibovitz was born in Waterbury, Connecticut in 1949. Her father was a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force and so the Leibovitz family moved frequently including a stint in the Philippines where Leibovitz began taking pictures.
After high school Leibovitz attended the San Francisco Art Institute where she studied photography. For several years, she continued to develop her photography skills while working various jobs, including a stint on a collective agriculture community in Israel in 1969.
Upon her return to the United States, Leibovitz worked for the fledgling magazine Rolling Stone. By 1973 Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner promoted Leibovitz to chief photographer, a role she held until 1983. Many of her intimate photos of celebrities helped launch and define the look and brand of Rolling Stone magazine including 1980′s controversial photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, in which a nude Lennon is curled around and kissing a fully-clothed Ono.
The photo turned out to be the last photo taken of the pop icon Lennon. Five hours later he was shot and killed. The photo ran a month later on Rolling Stone’s January 22, 1981 cover as a tribute to the legendary musician.
In 2005 the American Society of Magazine Editors announced the Lennon/Ono Rolling Stone magazine cover was the top winner of the group’s «40 Most Influential Magazine Covers» of the last 40 years as determined by a panel of magazine editors, artists and pakistani designers list.
Other notable photos for Rolling Stone magazine that Leibovitz shot include provocative shots of singer Linda Ronstadt and teen pop star David Cassidy in 1972, which caused controversy at the time of publication.
In 1983 Leibovitz started shooting feature portraits for Vanity Fair magazine and continues her work with the fashion magazine to this day. Last year Leibovitz’s portrait of 16-year-old pop singer and actress Miley Cyrus sparked a media controversy. In Leibovitz’s portrait of Cyrus the singer-actress seemingly appeared topless, an inconsistency to Cyrus’s wholesome image according to Cyrus supporters and critics. It was later determined that Cyrus was in fact wrapped in a sheet for the photo shoot.
Before the Miley Cyrus/Vanity Fair debacle, Leibovitz stirred up media frenzy with her portrait of actresses Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson for Vanity Fair’s 2006 Hollywood issue. And last year’s the Vogue magazine cover featuring LeBron James and Gisele Bundchen also created controversy.
But it was back in 1991 that Leibovitz created incredible and long-lasting controversy with a photo of a nude and pregnant Demi Moore for Vanity Fair magazine, which ran on the fashion magazine’s cover. Moore also appeared later on the cover of the same magazine nude with a suit painted on her body.