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Women Hardcover – October 19, 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Each of the extraordinary portraits made by photographer Annie Leibovitz for her book Women stands on its own. Looked at together, these "photographs of people with nothing more in common than that they are women (and living in America at the end of the twentieth century), all--well almost all--fully clothed," writes Susan Sontag in the book's preface, form "an anthology of destinies and disabilities and new possibilities." Leibovitz, who in her years working for Rolling Stone, Vogue, and Vanity Fair magazines has photographed hundreds of celebrities, turns her lens on a wide range of ordinary and extraordinary female subjects: coal miners, socialites, first ladies, artists, domestic-violence victims, an astronaut, a surgeon, a maid. What she creates is a reflection of contemporary American womanhood that mirrors both women's accomplishments and the challenges they still face individually and as a group.

Leibovitz demonstrates her own range as a photographer in this body of work, shooting in the studio and natural settings and working in both black-and-white and color film. She depicts model Jerry Hall wearing a little black dress, a fur coat, and high heels, staring frankly at the viewer from a velvet chair in a plush red parlor while her naked infant son nurses from her exposed right breast. Schoolteacher Lamis Srour's eyes--the only part of her face visible behind her heavy black veil--illuminate a dark black-and-white portrait. Leibovitz frames actress Elizabeth Taylor and her dog Sugar by their shocks of snow-white hair. She captures four Kilgore College Rangerettes, a drill team, at the apex of their kicks--white-booted legs pointing up, obscuring their faces and revealing the red underpants beneath their blue miniskirts. There are many more wonderful and unexpected images here, over 200 in all. The delight in discovering them awaits readers. --Jordana Moskowitz

From School Library Journal

-To look upon the faces of the women photographed in this collection of more than 200 portraits is to marvel at and admire the intensity and dignity of the personalities represented. The subjects depicted encompass every imaginable field of endeavor. There are aerialists, writers, coal miners, battered women, and socialites, to name a few. They range from anonymous to well known. Leibovitz has become a celebrity in her own right since starting her career at Rolling Stone and then moving on to work at Vogue and Vanity Fair. She is well known for her photographs of some of the icons of 20th-century culture-rock stars, movie stars, politicians, athletes, and novelists, as well as many other famous figures, often posing her subjects in unconventional and surprising ways. Sontag's thought-provoking essay gives further insight and explanation. Young adults will be inspired, challenged, and moved both by the accomplishments and situations of the women photographed, as well as by the skill and eye of the artist who captured their images.
Turid Teague, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (October 19, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0037550020
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375500206
  • ASIN: 0375500200
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 1 x 12.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was browsing through a bookstore, waiting for my kids to get done with Boy Scouts, not looking for anything in particular, when I spied "Women" on a shelf near an easy chair. The plain cover of this large book intrigued me so I started to skim through the book. After about a minute, I sat down and spent 45 more minutes going through the book, page by page. I had never heard of the book and only vaguely know the authors from popular culture, but I'm hooked now. As a busy working mother I don't usually have the time to spend enjoying fine art, photography, or coffee table books. I have to say that this is an inspiring piece of work that had me so engaged in some of the photos that I conjured up my own life stories for these women in my mind and thought about what their real life is like, how to meet them, etc. Annie's photographs really spoke to me.
I heartily recommend this book -- it's food for the soul. I only regret that I paid so much for the book that night (I had to give it to my best friend the next day).
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Format: Hardcover
I'd give Leibovitz four stars for the sole reason that she tackled "WOMEN" as a concept.
How does one portray "WOMEN" completely? It's as daunting and impossible as stating that one can portray "ETERNITY" or "LIFE" or "TRUTH" in their fullest senses.
There are those that have argued that Leibovitz's book gives preferential treatment to some subjects, while demeaning or diminishing others. For example, the photos of famous women are often glossy, flattering, and classically "pretty," while the photos of non-famous women are more often stark, harsh, and jolting to the senses.
I do not disagree.
What comes into question, however, is our definition of beauty. Society tells us that Drew Barrymore sprawled on the ground is beautiful. A group of coal-blackened female miners is not. That's society talking, not Annie Leibovitz - and certainly not the individual reader/viewer.
Instead, I choose to think that what Leibovitz was trying to do with "WOMEN" was to challenge these stereotypes and expectations. On every page, she attempts to portray the essence of the women she is photographing. For a Hollywood actress, that may very well mean a glamorous, "pretty" setting. For Helene Grimaud, it's a piano. For Wendy Suzuki, it's a scientific laboratory, and for Lenda Murray, it's a Ms. Olympia costume. Instead of labeling and sorting these images, (as society is often apt to do), Leibovitz presents them one after another in a colossal photographic accomplishment she calls "WOMEN."
No, she doesn't manage to express the concept completely. I doubt if anyone could. But she does manage to challenge, enlighten, and empower her readers/viewers with her portrayal of the diverse women she selected to photograph.
For me, that in itself is beautiful.
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Format: Hardcover
I purchased a copy of this book as a gift for a family member, but when it arrived, I could not resist removing the shrink wrap. The rest is history; I was profoundly moved by the selection and editing process which must have gone into this book. While not one given to femi-babble, I have to say that this splendid photography and essay empower every American woman to be and do whatever it is that she wants to be and do. What a wonderful way to start or end a millennium! (Of course, I had to come back to Amazon for additional copies!)
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Format: Hardcover
This book deserves more than five stars. I think it would make a wonderful gift for any young woman starting to decide what it means for her to be a woman.
As Susan Sontag tells us in the essay, "Each of these pictures must stand on its own. But the ensemble says, So this is what women are now -- as different, as varied, as heroic, as forlorn, as conventional, as unconventional as this."
This exciting book will challenge everyone's concept of what women are and can be in their roles. Many viewers will be uncomfortable with those poerful challenges, while others will find the images to be mentally liberating. "Ambition is what women have been schooled to stifle in themselves, and what is celebrated in a book of photographs that emphasizes the variety of women's lives today," according to Susan Sontag.
Underneath this conceptual work comes a theme built around a striking new sense of what beauty means in a woman, and it has nothing to do with youth and physical perfection. Ms. Leibovitz wonderfully captures what I think of as "soulful" beauty in this remarkable collection of new photographs done for this book. Interestingly, her most beautiful "soul pictures" come of people who are the oldest and have the most lined faces -- like her mother and sculptress Louise Bourgeois. I fell in love with all women, more than ever before, from being with these images. They reminded me of the beauty in the fundamental connection we all have to women, and women have to the fundamentals of life.
As Susan Sontag points out, "Such a book . . . is also about women's attractiveness." "Forever young, forever good-looking, forever sexy -- beauty is still a construction, a transformation, a masquerade.
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