New York

Annie Liebovitz

International Center of Photography Museum (ICP)

There is something wanly funny about entering a gallery full of Annie Liebovitz photographs—photographs I’ve already seen in Vanity Fair or in American Express ads—that oddly reaffirms that usually irrelevant distinction between art and photography. Throughout the ’80s, much high-profile “art” photography seemed transfixed by commerce; leavened with a healthy dose of hypocrisy, however, it at least pretended that this relationship was in some way specular or critical. Liebovitz’s photographs are simply commerce; as Ingrid Sischy has recently written in the introduction to the monograph Photographs: Annie Liebovitz 1970–1990: “Her story is not about a struggle to be recognized, nor does it reflect alienation from commerce.” True, too true. Maybe The New Republic was even closer to the heart of the matter when, in a recent parody of Vanity Fair, it christened our photographer Annie Letsberitch.

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