Memoirs of fame and family

Memoirs of fame and family
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio as shot by photographer Annie Leibovitz in 1997.

SINGAPORE - Her work is mostly seen in the glossy pages of Vogue and Vanity Fair, but visitors to the ArtScience Museum will soon see celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz's photographs on a grander scale.

An exhibition titled Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life 1990-2005 opens at the museum on April 18. The retrospective, which is being shown in Asia for the first time, features close to 200 of her iconic images.

Among the famed pictures going on display is that of a nude, pregnant Demi Moore, which drew controversy when it made the cover of Vanity Fair magazine in 1991.

Other revealing celebrity portraits in the show include those of a young Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Nicole Kidman.

"I don't have a favourite photograph. It's the body of work that's important, and I think I understood this early on," writes Leibovitz, 64, via e-mail. "When I go to galleries or museums, I like to see retrospectives, a lifetime of an artist's work. That's when it becomes really interesting."

Besides looking back at Leibovitz's work, the exhibition is also a photographic memoir of a decade and a half of her life.

There are photographs of her with friends and family; and with her long-time partner Susan Sontag, the well-known American writer and intellectual who died of cancer in 2004.

The pictures also document the birth and childhood of her three daughters, as well as the siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s. And her camera's eye preserves the landscapes of Monument Valley in the American West as well as the Jordanian desert's Wadi Rum.

"I've been taking reportage-type pictures my whole life," says the photographer.

"The photographs of my family and my friends come out of a tradition established by Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson, who were important models to me when I was a student. They're a sort of relaxed reportage. I don't think of them as snapshots, although the boundary between snapshots and personal reportage is pretty thin."

Ms Honor Harger, executive director of the ArtScience Museum, says: "The striking power of Annie's photographs lies in the fact that they capture the essence of the subject in a unique and visceral fashion."

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