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Vanity Fair: The Portraits: A Century of Iconic Images Hardcover – September 1, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Vanity Fair magazine has a reputation as one of the preeminent showcases for portraits in the world, and this book gathers together a good chunk of them in all their glossy, artificial splendor. There's almost as much celebrity behind the lens as in front of it: Edward Steichen, Herb Ritts, Mario Testino, David LaChapelle and, of course, Annie Leibovitz are all included, and the portraits themselves amount to a who's who of culture and politics, with the quality of the images justifying the inclusion of the occasional lesser-known figures. The photographs have been arranged to supply the reader with subtle (and not so subtle) visual and cultural frisson: what are we meant to think when Joseph Goebbels is juxtaposed with Richard Perle? In a face-off between Rob Lowe and Louise Brooks, who has the most glamorous jaw line? For posing questions such as this, and for the production values and sheer scale, not to mention introductory essays by Graydon Carter, Christopher Hitchens, Terence Pepper and David Friend, this is a book that will no doubt be adorning the coffee tables of the world's culture brokers for many years to come. (Sept.)
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Review

Vanity Fair magazine has a reputation as one of the preeminent showcases for portraits in the world, and this book gathers together a good chunk of them in all their glossy, artificial splendor. There's almost as much celebrity behind the lens as in front of it: Edward Steichen, Herb Ritts, Mario Testino, David LaChapelle and, of course, Annie Leibovitz are all included, and the portraits themselves amount to a who's who of culture and politics, with the quality of the images justifying the inclusion of the occasional lesser-known figures. The photographs have been arranged to supply the reader with subtle (and not so subtle) visual and cultural frisson: what are we meant to think when Joseph Goebbels is juxtaposed with Richard Perle? In a face-off between Rob Lowe and Louise Brooks, who has the most glamorous jaw line? For posing questions such as this, and for the production values and sheer scale, not to mention introductory essays by Graydon Carter, Christopher Hitchens, Terence Pepper and David Friend, this is a book that will no doubt be adorning the coffee tables of the world's culture brokers for many years to come.
(Publishers Weekly 2008-08-11)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Abrams; 1 edition (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810972980
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810972988
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 1.5 x 13.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Few books published survey the fascinating moments of the 20th century the way VANITY FAIR PORTRAITS: A CENTURY OF ICONIC IMAGES does. This hefty, handsome volume contains the photographic works of some of the world's most important photographers whose images have graced the pages to Vanity Fair in the two periods of its publication - the beginning and the ending of the 20th century. This is a photographic collection that gives generous full page (and at time double page ) spreads of brilliant photographs by artists who gained permission to enter the lives of movie starts, artists, writers, government personalities, royalty, stage personas, the wealthy and the significant poor - they are all here in both lush color and black and white reproductions.

Not only is it fascinating to leaf through the 300 odd photographs of this book, but it is also rewarding to read the several introductory notes and essays by Graydon Carter, David Friend, and Christopher Hitchens - each of whom lends appreciation for not only the publication that influenced art and fashion and politics and world affairs, but also gave readers a tasteful and solidly informative way to view the world as the characters displayed here influenced our times. This is a collection of art and history married in a way that allows the reader time and contrasts to re-live the past and appreciate the developments that graced the years from 1900 to 2000. Well worth the price! Grady Harp, October 08
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although I purchased this book as a gift, I did get the chance to look through it as well. This is a gorgeous coffee-table book that is a fine addition to anyone's collection. Amazing photographs from the last century. Once you pick it up, it's hard not to look through the entire thing at least once. Fabulous book!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're into portrait photography, this is a great book covering some well known portraits, and a wide range of style, time, and people. I went through the book several times 'earmarking' portraits for lighting style, posing, and/or composition that I find inspirational.

My copy of the book had several pages though where the ink of one page had worn off onto another page, which was most annoying.
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Format: Hardcover
I am a semi-pro photographer and am always on the lookout for inspiration, so when i saw this on the shelf, I had to pick it up. 10 or 15 pages in, I was hooked. I had to buy it.

The images in this book are incredible, but the foreward the and way the images are arranged just makes reading through that much more fun.

The book is for everyone really, with celebrities photos starting around 1913. It is really an ode to our time in pictures.

I would recommend this book to everyone and am happy I purchased it.
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Format: Hardcover
Hitchens writes a great essay introducing these portraits. The portraits themselves vary in quality. Hands down, the very best ones are the ones done by the great masters earlier in the twentieth century in black and white, especially by Steichen. Of the later photographs, the ones done by Bruce Weber are my favorites along with Ritts, Tesino and others. I think the weakest photos, the ones that will probably not make it as serious art for being overly gimmicky, are Annie Lebovitz's. She makes a great eye catching magazine cover but she does not make ANY portrait that would even give someone like Steichen, were he alive, a moment's worry. Also included are some old Vanity Fair illustrated covers and these were quite gorgeous too. Nowadays this kind of cover could probably not sell a magazine but it's too bad as they were all wonderful works of art. In short, there's something for everyone in this huge collection of portraits. If you prefer very clever photos of present day celebs a lot, then this may be worth a full five stars for you. Those were the ones that took it down to four stars for me.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a increadable collection of portraits taken by Vanity Fair photographers over the past 100 years.
The photos are all done very well and in many cases, put a face to the famous that we have only heard about from the early 1900's. The book's coverage of the many different personalities of the 20th century is really something. It is a very fun book to go through and see the many diverse individuals.
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By Tash on January 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a really beautiful book. I bought it because I went to go see the Vanity Fair exhibit at LACMA. This is a great book for any photography lover or someone who has been a Vanity Fair fan, and it makes a really great gift. It chronicles Vanity Fair portraits of iconic artists, celebrities, and genius minds that have shaped the 20th century. I would greatly recommend it!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I real "Coffee-Table-Book" in weight and format. Very true to its title: "A century of Iconic Images" it has a lot of wonderful pictures of mostly very well known people. The real difference is the photographers. You nearly know when a picture is by Annie Leibovitz. Nicely edited in graphics and layout. A book to browse from time to time, when you want to see some good photos.
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