Internationally acclaimed photographer Annie Leibovitz is the latest artist to release a comprehensive, luxury coffee table book in TASCHEN’s ‘SUMO’ series, in a brand new release from the German publisher. Officially launched last week at the Chateu Marmont in Los Angeles by Vanity Fair, Leon Max and publisher Benedikt Tanschen, Leibovitz is the third artist to be immortalised in the SUMO collection, which debuted in 1999 with a retrospective of Helmut Newton’s work, followed by a chronicle of David LaChapelle.
When Benedikt Taschen asked the most important portrait photographer working today to collect her pictures for his new SUMO-sized edition, she was intrigued and challenged. In a recent interview with The Huffington Post, Leibovitz revealed;
“The book took about four years. There was a moment when it stalled a little bit. And I changed my thinking on it. It’s just so big. I’ve never done anything like it. You start to go through it and you can’t remember what you had in the beginning. This is the first time I’ve done a book that isn’t chronological. There are riffs. It’s kind of like a roller coaster ride — it goes up and down.”
Leibovitz drew from over four decades of work, starting with the viscerally intimate reportage she created for Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s, progressing through to her more stylized portraiture work for Vanity Fair and Vogue. Celebrated images such as John Lennon and Yoko Ono entwined in a last embrace are printed alongside portraits that have rarely (and in some cases, never) been seen. Bookended by a monochrome photograph of Richard Nixon’s helicopter lifting off from the White House lawn, following his resignation as president in 1974 and Queen Elizabeth II’s formal portrait taken in a drawing room of Buckingham Palace in 2007, the book includes portraits of actors, dancers, comedians, musicians, artists, writers, performance artists, journalists, athletes and businesspeople. Alongside the 476 mammoth-sized pages, the SUMO collection includes a supplementary book, which includes essays from comedian Steve Martin, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, and directors Hans Ulrich Obrist and Paul Roth, as well as text describing each of the more than 250 photographs.
The Leibovitz SUMO book is scheduled for release later this month, weighing in at a colossal 25kg (57lb) with a £1,750 ($2,500) price tag to match. The book is available in 10,000 signed and numbered collector’s editions (1,001 through 10,000) with 4 dust jacket options – Whoopi Goldberg (1984), Keith Haring (1986), David Byrne (1986) and Patti Smith (1978). Art Editions of 1 through 1,000 include all four jackets, and a limited edition signed print. If you’re worried you don’t have a coffee table worthy of supporting the SUMO collection, don’t worry, TASCHEN has you covered… Both editions come complete with a tripod bookstand designed by Mark Newson.