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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

30 Years Captured in 'Retrospective'




Even if you don't know her name, chances are you already know at least some of her most famous images - the legendary picture of John Lennon curled up nude next to Yoko Ono in 1978 or the scandalous photograph of the very pregnant - and again nude - Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine in 1991.


Annie Leibovitz, author of both and one of the world's most famous photographers, has come to town, bringing her "Retrospective" exhibition, which runs through June 11 at the Manezh Exhibition Hall as part of Photobiennale-2000.


"When 'Retrospective' started traveling 10 years ago, I was always wanting to go to Russia and it took this long to get here," said Leibovitz. "Actually the show was heading back home and I almost gave up, but a little over a month ago [the Moscow House of Photography] said they would like to take it as part of this photo festival."


"Retrospective" was first put together in 1990, around the same time as Leibovitz's best-selling "Photographs" book was released. Both book and exhibition grouped Liebovitz pictures from 1970 to 1990.


However, the artist continually updates her exhibition as she travels the world with it, so "Retrospective" now represents a look back over 30 years of work, said Leibovitz.


In 1970, when Liebovitz was just 19, she landed her first assignment from Rolling Stone magazine. The magazine was then a small San Francisco publication with a strong local focus - a far cry from the global monster it is today. Leibovitz has also grown, from a talented girl touring in the same trailer with the Grateful Dead and Rolling Stones to a conceptual portrait photographer rated among the greatest talents of the 20th century.


"Retrospective" allows the viewer to trace that development, with 150 photographs displayed in chronological order.


"The '70s photos are very much simple reportage, a very natural, journalistic style from the days when I lived inside of assignments," Leibovitz recalled. "The 80s get very colorful - bright, fat and rich; the 90s are a sort of calm-back-down series," Leibovitz added.


Her black-and-white 1970s photos do more than merely chronicle music tours backstage, they also transmit the hippie atmosphere of that epoch, especially through shots of Leibovitz's heroes such as Mick Jagger, Jane Fonda, Andy Warhol and Truman Capote. Leibovitz's originality comes through in her picture of U.S. President Richard Nixon announcing his resignation, captured on the tiny TV set sitting on the table in the Congress lobby.


The 1980s saw the flowering of Leibovitz's talent as a portrait photographer, often most strikingly demonstrated in her unusual portrayals of celebrities.


Arnold Schwarzenegger, dressed in white breeches and boots, sitting astride a white thoroughbred stallion, his naked, exaggeratedly muscled torso making him seem a human counterpart to his mount. Cindy Crawford, naked in the jungle with a piton on her shoulder. And preeminent footballer Pele - Leibovitz's most extraordinary portrait. Just the great athlete's feet - overworked and even ugly.


The parade of beautiful people is broken up by several more down-to-earth subjects. There are 12 shocking black-and-white pictures of war-devastated Sarajevo, as well as portraits that evoke the everyday courage of members of an organization for women suffering from AIDS.


In a televised interview, Leibovitz said she does not intend to take pictures during her current visit. "Taking photographs here would be akin to pretending that I understand the country or have a strong feel for it - but I don't believe that I do," she said.


The photographer recalled how one of her personal icons, Henri Cartier-Bresson, rejected "manufactured" or staged photography in his photographs of life in the Soviet Union in the 1950s. The renown French photographer captured an "honest view by an outsider," added Leibovitz. Some of those Cartier-Bresson photos are on display along with the Leibovitz exhibition.


Asked by the interviewer if she would like to photograph President Vladimir Putin, Leibovitz replied that she wouldn't mind, but only if she could take an unposed shot.


"I like men at work," she said.


"Retrospective" runs through June 11 at the Manezh Exhibition Hall, 2nd floor, located at 1 Manezh Square. Metro Okhotny Ryad or Alexandrovsky Sad. Tel. 202-8976.