How Annie Leibovitz captured Gloria Steinem's courage

In Portraits 2005–2016, Annie Leibovitz offers us insight into Steinem's tireless campaigning for women’s rights
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Gloria Steinem, New York City, 2015. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz. Picture credit: © Annie Leibovitz
Gloria Steinem, New York City, 2015. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz. Picture credit: © Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz began her career just as the second wave of feminism was beginning to break through in America, so it shouldn’t surprise readers of our new book Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005–2016 that the brilliant photographer shares some affinity with one of the movement's foremost figures: Gloria Steinem.

Steinem began her career in US magazines, just as Leibovitz did, though Steinem was a writer not a photographer, going undercover as a Playboy bunny girl, serving as a columnist for New York magazine, interviewing John Lennon for Cosmopolitan, and co-founding the feminist magazine Ms.

 

Annie Leibovitz, 2012. Photograph © Annie Leibovitz
Annie Leibovitz, 2012. Photograph © Annie Leibovitz

Steinem, like Leibovitz, also surpassed the limits of the magazine trade, and has continued her campaigning for women’s rights beyond the editorial pages and out into the political arena, lobbying for reproductive rights, same-sex marriage, and against pornography.

Both Leibovitz and Steinem were ardent supporters of Hilary Clinton during the last US presidential election, and this picture, taken in New York City in 2015, perhaps reflects the ongoing work many second-wave feminists feel lies ahead of them.

Though she’s in her eighties, Steinem shows no sign of slowing, and is perhaps even enjoying some of her greatest achievements during these later stages of her life. Steinem’s office, as Leibovitz makes visually evident, is no artfully redecorated retiree’s reading room, but a place of work, and for Gloria, that work is far from done.

 

Annie Leibovitz, 2012. Photograph © Annie Leibovitz

 


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