I always enjoy walking out of Waterstones with a book that I never knew existed. Women by Annie Leibovitz with the text by Susan Sontag is one such book.
The book is a wonderful collection of photographic portraits. Most of the images were taken in the United States but there is no indication of when they were taken. The only clue is that the book was published in 2000, so none of the images are later than that date.
With the very first image being of the photographer’s mother, the tone is set for a collection that is very personal to the photographer. There is a feel that each woman has a place in the book regardless of how well known she is.
Unusually for a book that contains photographs of women, there is a short bio of each subject at the back of the book. But then most books that feature photographs of women treat the subject as an object rather than a unique person.
To illustrate this point there is a series of four Las Vegas showgirls with one image of them in full showgirl regalia and on the opposite page a picture of the “real” them.
None of the books I have reviewed so far (Rankin v Freud and Two Nudes) contain a narrative running from image to image. Or if they do, they aren’t very clear to me. The picture of a death row inmate followed by a picture of two US Supreme Court Justices is a case in point.
The final image is of Susan Sontag who Annie Leibovitz credits for the idea of the book. A book that has to be one of my best purchases so far.