Annie Leibovitz’s “Sumo” Book Goes Beyond the Coffee Table
There's hardly anyone important in Hollywood—or elsewhere—that Leibovitz has not had in front of her camera.
Infamous photographer Annie Leibovitz was recently granted a Sumo Taschen, as the legendary art publisher’s thickest coffee table books are known (a reference to Helmut Newton‘s Sumo, both the biggest and most expensive book produced in the 20th century, which originally retailed for a whopping US$15,000). Annie Leibovitz, the book, is two and a half feet tall, weighs 57 pounds, and comes with its own tripod stand, making it less of a coffee table book and more of an installation. And good luck deciding which page to keep it flipped open to—at almost 500 pages, the book is, as one might imagine, a family album of sorts featuring many of the most famous faces of the past four decades.
There’s hardly anyone important in Hollywood—or elsewhere—that Leibovitz has not had in front of her camera. In fact some photos, like the Rolling Stone cover of a naked John Lennon embracing Yoko Ono on what was to be the day of his death, have become so iconic that many of us may have forgotten who shot them. They have become public property, part of our collective psyche. The book serves as a reminder not only of Leibovitz’s undisputed talent, but also of the service she has done for us in documenting so flawlessly the most important moments and people of the past three generations.
The book is available with a choice of four different dust jackets: Whoopi Goldberg, Keith Haring, David Byrne, or Patti Smith, each captured in a way that is evocative of their personalities and contributions to the worlds of cinema, art, and music. The super-sized tome opens with a black-and-white photograph of Richard Nixon’s helicopter lifting off from the White House lawn after his resignation, and concludes with a formal color portrait of Queen Elizabeth II taken at Buckingham Palace. If there were any lingering doubts about the enormous significance of all that Leibovitz has seen—both through the lens of her camera and otherwise—this awe-inspiring collection of photos puts them to bed.
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