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A photographers life

Published: June 22, 2011 (Issue # 1662)



  • Photographer Annie Leibovitz pictured at the opening of her exhibition at the State Hermitage Museum on Tuesday.
    Photo: ALEXANDER BELENKY / The St. Petersburg Times

  • Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rob Besserer shot on Cumberland Island, Georgia in 1990.
    Photo: ANNIE LEIBOVITZ

Sitting in the apartments of Tsar Alexander I in the State Hermitage Museum, Annie Leibovitz is a generous presence in an otherwise daunting enfilade of staterooms. At 62, she is possibly the worlds most famous photographer, and during the past four decades has trained her lens on the great and the good and on a fair share of monsters too. It wouldnt be an exaggeration to say that few photographers can lay claim to quite as much psychic real estate as Leibovitz. From the Rolling Stones to the Clintons, she has photographed just about anyone who is anybody, creating some of the 20th centurys most memorable portraits in the process.

The survey exhibition now on view at the Hermitage brings together a selection of Leibovitzs photography from between 1990 and 2005: 15 years that saw important changes in her personal life. It was a book before it was a show, and thats probably the reason I felt comfortable with the imagery going into it, she said Tuesday in an interview with The St. Petersburg Times ahead of the exhibitions opening.

Some of the images makes it seem like, are we trespassing? But in the shelter of the book covers, it felt protected. So it was interesting to translate it into a show.

Now out in the world, and hung against the pastel walls of the Winter Palace, it becomes clear that this multifaceted body of work is held together by the sheer force of her personality, her distinctive voice, a relentless pursuit of the telling moment and a deep, almost melancholic, understanding of the transience of life.

On some level I like the book more, she says. But on another level its exciting to see it come to life. And the show changes wherever its mounted.

The personal work is printed far smaller than the assignment works, she explains, because it was designed to be intimate.

The Connecticut-born, New York-based artist began her journey in the crucible of late 1960s San Francisco and has been at the epicenter of the entertainment industry ever since. Her uniquely American vision has made her one of the most important chroniclers of what fascinates the nation, and has earned her a place among its most eloquent raconteurs.

Leibovitz started out at Rolling Stone magazine in 1970, where she created portraits of a generation that still resonate today. In the 80s she moved to Vanity Fair, going on to define that decade and the next with her take on everything from the O. J. Simpson murder trial to a portrait of a naked and very pregnant Demi Moore. Most recently, her photographs for Vogue have taken fashion photography from the merely glamorous to the downright operatic.

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Thursday, Apr. 17


Expocenter Eurasia at 13 Ulitsa Kapitan Voronin is the sight of Goods on the Way, a five-day event starting today showcasing the latest in the industrial products industry. Bags, backpacks, swimsuits and much, much more will be available to attendees hoping to update not only their style but their accessories for the upcoming summer.


Friday, Apr. 18


Teachers and students alike shouldnt miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.


The Tromso International Film Festival, Norways largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).


Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianitys holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the deserts most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDAs Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBAs Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.