February 20, 2009 / 4:45 PM / 10 years ago

Leibovitz takes favorite celebrity shots to Berlin

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - Annie Leibovitz, who has photographed everyone from Michelle Obama to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and a very pregnant Demi Moore in the nude, opened an exhibition of some of her favorite images in Berlin on Friday.

Photographer Annie Leibovitz from the U.S. poses in front of her picture 'Monument Valley' at the C/O gallery in Berlin, February 20, 2009. The gallery hosts her exhibition 'A Photographer's Life 1990-2005' from February 21 until May 24 in the German capital. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

The American photographer, whose portraits have graced the covers of Vanity Fair, Vogue and Rolling Stone, said she wanted to show her work in Berlin because her deceased partner, author Susan Sontag, had a special bond to the city.

“Susan loved escaping New York and coming to Berlin,” Leibovitz told a crowd of about 100 journalists ahead of the gala opening of the exhibition on Friday.

“It’s like bringing Susan home.”

The exhibition, called “Annie Leibovitz - A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005,” are from her personal and professional collection. Her works range from emotional depictions of illness and death, family members or landscapes along with portraits.

“I was very shy as a young woman, whether or not you can believe it,” she said. “Photography helped me out of that. You can take the camera and be a part of the world. That still works for me. It’s magic.”

Leibovitz, 59, is famous for her celebrity portraits — such as former U.S. president Bill Clinton in his oval office, Nelson Mandela in Soweto, Jack Nicholson on Mullholland Drive and most recently Michelle Obama for the cover of Vogue magazine.

She has also taken famous pictures of a nude John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Brad Pitt lying on a bed and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” album cover.

Leibovitz has often developed a high level of intimacy with her subjects.

“This wasn’t just from one sitting with Demi Moore,” she said, pointing to the famous shot of the pregnant U.S. actress that was on the cover of Vanity Fair and is on display. “I also took their wedding photos when she married Bruce Willis.”

Leibovitz said Sontag, who died in 2004, had a long love affair with Berlin. In her exhibition, Leibovitz includes several pictures documenting Sontag’s battle with cancer.

“There’s something special about Berlin,” she said. “Susan came here frequently. It was like a second Paris for her. She was able to write here. She loved being here for all the history.”

Editing by Paul Casciato)

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