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Friday, 07 October 2022


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List price $150... doesn't seem that outrageous by today's standards, but I won't be buying it because I just don't care that much about celebrity portraits. Liebovitz has done lots of fine work, but it's just not up my alley.

I remember looking through a copy of Taschen's Helmut Newton Sumo edition at an exhibition in Bologna many years ago. And I later bought the "scaled down" version. The Sumo edition certainly imparted a whole different perspective to the viewing experience.

There was once a video of Annie Leibovitz photographing the queen (must we identify which queen?) which has either disappeared or has escaped my crude attempts at search. However, there is this recent (September 9, 2022) Vogue piece, Annie Leibovitz Remembers Photographing Queen Elizabeth II.


Annie has made so many memorable portraits. My favorite from the batch I have seen over the years is Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon (1995) holding hands in their underwear. The guys for their characters and Annie for her creative guts.

A few years ago, I came across a copy of the littl(er) edition in a second hand bookstore in West Stockbridge, MA. I don’t know which cover it had, because it was opened to a full spread of Arlo Guthrie and his family on their front porch. (Alice’s Restaurant took place in Stockbridge, and Arlo still lives in the area.)

The price, though high, was a good discount from list and I was instantly thinking about buying it. Then I realized I had absolutely no place to keep it.

Mike, it’s worth the time if you ever find one to at least browse. I own nothing else like it. The tipped in photos are the next best thing to looking at the originals, as they mimic the prints- in size, colors, etc - despite widely varied original photographic methods and processes. Very nice narrative and lettering, too. Only 1200 copies, but I see them come up at auction and elsewhere from time to time. I picked up (ouch) mine at the Met shortly after publication in 1985.

At the risk of rattling on about Helmut Newton rather more than is warranted in reply to an Online Photographer/i> post about Annie Liebowitz, "Nazi Nudes" is an accurate and pithy descriptor of Helmut Newton's work, especially in that book, and not necessarily pejorative, by reason of that accuracy.

The remaining unanswered question—the book and stand together weigh 34.8 kilograms according to Taschen, about 77 pounds. It's possible that the spidery, chromed, stand weighs only 11 pounds, with the book weighing 66 pounds (as claimed) but I don't know.

I respect Annie Liebowitz's work for Rolling Stone and other outlets for decades, but something in her work doesn't quite strike a chord in me, though I can see it does in many others, even quite aside from the celebrity of her subjects, and the striking light, color and sense of moment in the photographs.

And last but not least, it looks like the first edition of June Newton's work Alice Springs:Portraits is still available from the publisher for $85, a modest price these days.


Annie was a B&W Queen, before she was a commercial celebrity!

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