BY DAVE WIECZOREK
Who doesn’t have a favorite portrait among the scores of celebrity icons Annie Leibovitz has photographed since shooting her first Rolling Stone cover more than 40 years ago? The naked John Lennon entwined with Yoko Ono, perhaps, or maybe pregnant Demi Moore, leaping Mikhail Baryshnikov, Meryl Streep pinching her “kabuki” face or bare-chested Tiger Woods pumping iron – to name a few.
Most often her images are seen on pages of magazines, but you can examine the photographer’s artistry up close during Annie Leibovitz at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Jan. 17-June 9.
The 63-year-old Leibovitz relaxed her usual tight grip during the selection process, making for an exhibit unlike her previous shows around the world.
“I wanted to take a slightly different look at her work,” says Charles Stainback, Norton’s assistant director and exhibit curator. “I wanted to look at some pictures that are quieter, more restrained, less dramatic. Annie was intrigued.”
And pleased with the Stainback’s approach to settling on 39 pictures.
“The Norton has made a sophisticated selection,” Leibovitz says. “While there are several portraits of very famous people, they are not my most famous portraits. There are some surprises.”
You’ll recognize comedian John Belushi, writer John Irving and the Rev. Al Sharpton, for instance, but maybe not artist Agnes Martin or Mississippi blues musician Otha Turner.
“As a curator, you want the components to come together in a story,” Stainback says. “The combination of famous and not-so-famous is kind of wonderful.”
Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach, 561-832-5196, www.norton.org