Extra Class Activities Unit (b) Three

Class Activities Unit (b) Three

In this unit students will look at ANNIE LEIBOVITZ: A PHOTOGRAPHER'S LIFE. Students will look at other images from well known artist Annie Leibovitz. Annie has been making powerful images documenting American popular culture since the early 1970s, when her photographs began appearing in Rolling Stone Magazine. Ten years later she began working for Vanity Fair, and then Vogue US, creating a diverse body of work.

It is suggested that some of her photographs tend to appropriate the Artist models within her knowledge of art history. We question some of her celebrity shots have been inspired by the Renaissance period but this does not mean she favored to a particular era or period of time. But in contrast most of her personal images were of mum, dad, family, kids, friends and especially her partner Susan Sontag.

Students will use some of those techniques to appropriate particular art periods of their choice. Recontextualize the meanings of other artists work 

Aim:        To appropriate an artwork of their choice from the art periods through the use of photography.

                Showing meaning and skill in photography influenced by the artist models.

"Through the Lens..."

Class Activities Unit (b) Three: “Through the lens”

Outcomes: Practice / Frames / Conceptual Framework

Time: 36 Hours / 9 Weeks

Evidence / Periods



 3-6 Extra Periods

Class discussion an introduction to:

Students go to the MCA Gallery to learn about the "Gaze."

19 November 2010 - 26 April 2011

This summer the MCA is thrilled to present the work of legendary American photographer Annie Leibovitz to Australian audiences as part of the Sydney International Art Series.

Annie Leibovitz has been making powerful images documenting American popular culture since the early 1970s, when her photographs began appearing in Rolling Stone Magazine. Ten years later she began working for Vanity Fair, and then Vogue US, creating a diverse body of work.

Following a record-breaking tour in the US and Europe, this hugely popular exhibition showcases commercial, documentary and personal works selected by the artist. At the heart of the exhibition are images which record the personal moments from Leibovitz’s life, including births, deaths, reunions and vacations. It also features portraits of well-known figures, including actors Brad Pitt, Demi Moore and Nicole Kidman, Patti Smith, Johnny Cash and Mick Jagger.

Discussing the artworks of Annie Leibovitz with the students especially the artist practice.

Class discussion an introduction to: 

Part 1 Read the blogs of other critics and opinions 


October 27th, 2008 Annie Leibovitz Life Through A Lens

Born in 1949 in Waterbury, Connecticut, Annie Leibovitz enrolled in the San Francisco Art Institute intent on studying painting. It was not until she traveled to Japan with her mother the summer after her sophomore year that she discovered her interest in taking photographs. When she returned to San Francisco that fall, she began taking night classes in photography. Time spent on a kibbutz in Israel allowed her to hone her skills further.

In 1970 Leibovitz approached Jann Wenner, founding editor of Rolling Stone, which he’d recently launched and was operating out of San Francisco. Impressed with her portfolio, Wenner gave Leibovitz her first assignment: shoot John Lennon. Leibovitz’s black-and-white portrait of the shaggy-looking Beatle graced the cover of the January 21, 1971 issue. Two years later she was named Rolling Stone chief photographer.

When the magazine began printing in color in 1974, Leibovitz followed suit. “In school, I wasn’t taught anything about lighting, and I was only taught black-and-white,” she told ARTnews in 1992. “So I had to learn color myself.” Among her subjects from that period are Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, and Patti Smith. Leibovitz also served as the official photographer for the Rolling Stones’ 1975 world tour. While on the road with the band she produced her iconic black-and-white portraits of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, shirtless and gritty.

In 1980 Rolling Stone sent Leibovitz to photograph John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who had recently released their album “Double Fantasy.” For the portrait Leibovitz imagined that the two would pose together nude. Lennon disrobed, but Ono refused to take off her pants. Leibovitz “was kinda disappointed,” according to Rolling Stone, and so she told Ono to leave her clothes on. “We took one Polaroid,” said Leibovitz, “and the three of us knew it was profound right away.” The resulting portrait shows Lennon nude and curled around a fully clothed Ono. Several hours later, Lennon was shot dead in front of his apartment. The photograph ran on the cover of the Rolling Stone Lennon commemorative issue. In 2005 the American Society of Magazine Editors named it the best magazine cover from the past 40 years.

Annie Leibovitz: Photographs, the photographer’s first book, was published in 1983. The same year Leibovitz joined Vanity Fair and was made the magazine’s first contributing photographer. At Vanity Fair she became known for her wildly lit, staged, and provocative portraits of celebrities. Most famous among them are Whoopi Goldberg submerged in a bath of milk and Demi Moore naked and holding her pregnant belly. (The cover showing Moore — which then-editor Tina Brown initially balked at running — was named second best cover from the past 40 years.) Since then Leibovitz has photographed celebrities ranging from Brad Pitt to Mikhail Baryshnikov. She’s shot Ellen DeGeneres, the George W. Bush cabinet, Michael Moore, Madeleine Albright, and Bill Clinton. She’s shot Scarlett Johannson and Keira Knightley nude, with Tom Ford in a suit; Nicole Kidman in ball gown and spotlights; and, recently, the world’s long-awaited first glimpse of Suri Cruise, along with parents Tom and Katie. Her portraits have appeared in Vogue, The New York Times Magazine, and The New Yorker, and in ad campaigns for American Express, the Gap, and the Milk Board.

Among other honors, Leibovitz has been made a Commandeur des Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government and has been designated a living legend by the Library of Congress. Her first museum show, Photographs: Annie Leibovitz 1970-1990, took place in 1991 at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. and toured internationally for six years. At the time she was only the second living portraitist — and the only woman — to be featured in an exhibition by the institution.

Leibovitz met Susan Sontag in 1989 while photographing the writer for her book AIDS and its Metaphors. “I remember going out to dinner with her and just sweating through my clothes because I thought I couldn’t talk to her,” Leibovitz said in an interview with The New York Times late last year. Sontag told her, “You’re good, but you could be better.” Though the two kept separate apartments, their relationship lasted until Sontag’s death in late 2004.

Sontag’s influence on Leibovitz was profound. In 1993 Leibovitz traveled to Sarajevo during the war in the Balkans, a trip that she admits she would not have taken without Sontag’s input. Among her work from that trip is Sarajevo, Fallen Bicycle of Teenage Boy Just Killed by a Sniper, a black-and-white photo of a bicycle collapsed on blood-smeared pavement. Sontag, who wrote the accompanying essay, also first conceived of Leibovitz’s book Women (1999). The book includes images of famous people along with those not well known. Celebrities like Susan Sarandon and Diane Sawyer share space with miners, soldiers in basic training, and Las Vegas showgirls in and out of costume.

Leibovitz’s most recent book, A Photographer’s Life: 1990-2005, includes her trademark celebrity portraits. But it also features personal photographs from Leibovitz’s life: her parents, siblings, children, nieces and nephews, and Sontag. Leibovitz, who has called the collection “a memoir in photographs,” was spurred to assemble it by the deaths of Sontag and her father, only weeks apart. The book even includes photos of Leibovitz herself, like the one that shows her nude and eight months pregnant, à la Demi Moore. That picture was taken in 2001, shortly before Leibovitz gave birth to daughter Sarah. Daughters Susan and Samuelle, named in honor of Susan and Leibovitz’s father, were born to a surrogate in 2005.

Leibovitz composed these personal photographs with materials that she used when she was first starting out in the ’70s: a 35-millimeter camera, black-and-white Tri X film. “I don’t have two lives,” she writes in the book’s introduction. “This is one life, and the personal pictures and the assignment work are all part of it.” Still, she told the Times, this book is the “most intimate, it tells the best story, and I care about it.”

–Rachel Somerstein

Rachel Somerstein is a writer who lives in New York

Introduction to Art TimeLine

From Art History For Dummies by Jesse Bryant Wilder, MA, MAT

Read more:

The history of art is immense, the earliest cave paintings pre-date writing by almost 27,000 years! If you're interested in art history, the first thing you should do is take a look at this table which briefly outlines the artists, traits, works, and events that make up major art periods and how art evolved to present day:

Art Periods/


Chief Artists and Major Works

Historical Events

Stone Age (30,000 b.c.–2500 b.c.)

Cave painting, fertility goddesses, megalithic structures

Lascaux Cave Painting, Woman of Willendorf, Stonehenge

Ice Age ends (10,000 b.c.–8,000 b.c.); New Stone Age and first permanent settlements (8000 b.c.–2500 b.c.)

Mesopotamian (3500 b.c.–539 b.c.)

Warrior art and narration in stone relief

Standard of Ur, Gate of Ishtar, Stele of Hammurabi's Code

Sumerians invent writing (3400 b.c.); Hammurabi writes his law code (1780 b.c.); Abraham founds monotheism

Egyptian (3100 b.c.–30 b.c.)

Art with an afterlife focus: pyramids and tomb painting

Imhotep, Step Pyramid, Great Pyramids, Bust of Nefertiti

Narmer unites Upper/Lower Egypt (3100 b.c.); Rameses II battles the Hittites (1274 b.c.); Cleopatra dies (30 b.c.)

Greek and Hellenistic (850 b.c.–31 b.c.)

Greek idealism: balance, perfect proportions; architectural orders(Doric, Ionic, Corinthian)

Parthenon, Myron, Phidias, Polykleitos, Praxiteles

Athens defeats Persia at Marathon (490 b.c.); Peloponnesian Wars (431 b.c.–404 b.c.); Alexander the Great's conquests (336 b.c.–323 b.c.)

Roman (500 b.c.– a.d. 476)

Roman realism: practical and down to earth; the arch

Augustus of Primaporta, Colosseum, Trajan's Column, Pantheon

Julius Caesar assassinated (44 b.c.); Augustus proclaimed Emperor (27 b.c.); Diocletian splits Empire (a.d. 292); Rome falls (a.d. 476)

Indian, Chinese, and Japanese(653 b.c.–a.d. 1900)

Serene, meditative art, and Arts of the Floating World

Gu Kaizhi, Li Cheng, Guo Xi, Hokusai, Hiroshige

Birth of Buddha (563 b.c.); Silk Road opens (1st century b.c.); Buddhism spreads to China (1st–2nd centuries a.d.) and Japan (5th century a.d.)

Byzantine and Islamic (a.d. 476–a.d.1453)

Heavenly Byzantine mosaics; Islamic architecture and amazing maze-like design

Hagia Sophia, Andrei Rublev, Mosque of Córdoba, the Alhambra

Justinian partly restores Western Roman Empire (a.d. 533–a.d. 562); Iconoclasm Controversy (a.d. 726–a.d. 843); Birth of Islam (a.d. 610) and Muslim Conquests (a.d. 632–a.d. 732)

Middle Ages (500–1400)

Celtic art, Carolingian Renaissance, Romanesque, Gothic

St. Sernin, Durham Cathedral, Notre Dame, Chartres, Cimabue, Duccio, Giotto

Viking Raids (793–1066); Battle of Hastings (1066); Crusades I–IV (1095–1204); Black Death (1347–1351); Hundred Years' War (1337–1453)

Early and High Renaissance (1400–1550)

Rebirth of classical culture

Ghiberti's Doors, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael

Gutenberg invents movable type (1447); Turks conquer Constantinople (1453); Columbus lands in New World (1492); Martin Luther starts Reformation (1517)

Venetian and Northern Renaissance (1430–1550)

The Renaissance spreads north- ward to France, the Low Countries, Poland, Germany, and England

Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, Dürer, Bruegel, Bosch, Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden

Council of Trent and Counter-Reformation (1545–1563); Copernicus proves the Earth revolves around the Sun (1543

Mannerism (1527–1580)

Art that breaks the rules; artifice over nature

Tintoretto, El Greco, Pontormo, Bronzino, Cellini

Magellan circumnavigates the globe (1520–1522)

Baroque (1600–1750)

Splendor and flourish for God; art as a weapon in the religious wars

Reubens, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Palace of Versailles

Thirty Years' War between Catholics and Protestants (1618–1648)

Neoclassical (1750–1850)

Art that recaptures Greco-Roman grace and grandeur

David, Ingres, Greuze, Canova

Enlightenment (18th century); Industrial Revolution (1760–1850)

Romanticism (1780–1850)

The triumph of imagination and individuality

Caspar Friedrich, Gericault, Delacroix, Turner, Benjamin West

American Revolution (1775–1783); French Revolution (1789–1799); Napoleon crowned emperor of France (1803)

Realism (1848–1900)

Celebrating working class and peasants; en plein air rustic painting

Corot, Courbet, Daumier, Millet

European democratic revolutions of 1848

Impressionism (1865–1885)

Capturing fleeting effects of natural light

Monet, Manet, Renoir, Pissarro, Cassatt, Morisot, Degas

Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871); Unification of Germany (1871)

Post-Impressionism (1885–1910)

A soft revolt against Impressionism

Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, Seurat

Belle Époque (late-19th-century Golden Age); Japan defeats Russia (1905)

Fauvism and Expressionism (1900–1935)

Harsh colors and flat surfaces (Fauvism); emotion distorting form

Matisse, Kirchner, Kandinsky, Marc

Boxer Rebellion in China (1900); World War (1914–1918)

Cubism, Futurism, Supremativism, Constructivism, De Stijl (1905–1920)

Pre– and Post–World War 1 art experiments: new forms to express modern life

Picasso, Braque, Leger, Boccioni, Severini, Malevich

Russian Revolution (1917); American women franchised (1920)

Dada and Surrealism (1917–1950)

Ridiculous art; painting dreams and exploring the unconscious

Duchamp, Dalí, Ernst, Magritte, de Chirico, Kahlo

Disillusionment after World War I; The Great Depression (1929–1938); World War II (1939–1945) and Nazi horrors; atomic bombs dropped on Japan (1945)

Abstract Expressionism (1940s–1950s) and Pop Art (1960s)

Post–World War II: pure abstraction and expression without form; popular art absorbs consumerism

Gorky, Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko, Warhol, Lichtenstein

Cold War and Vietnam War (U.S. enters 1965); U.S.S.R. suppresses Hungarian revolt (1956) Czechoslovakian revolt (1968)

Postmodernism and Deconstructivism (1970– )

Art without a center and reworking and mixing past styles

Gerhard Richter, Cindy Sherman, Anselm Kiefer, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid

Nuclear freeze movement; Cold War fizzles; Communism collapses in Eastern Europe and U.S.S.R. (1989–1991)

Students do the research

Students will select an artist artwork that is of interest. Using keywords to search relevant images that reflect the artist intentions and historical background.

Armed with this information students will appropriate these artworks through the use of photography. Creating new meanings and concepts that challenge the viewer and pushing the ideas to a new level, this will create controversy asking questions or provoking a response through photography as the new medium...

Lately, I've noticed many commercials are employing the art of recontextualization. Here are some other examples of a recontextualized imagery through other cultural thematic themes...

Leonardo Da Vinci, The Last Supper, 1497. Mural 420cm x 910cm

Another example is Yasumasa Morimura a Japanese appropriation artist. He was born in Osaka and graduated from Kyoto City University of Arts in 1978. Since 1985, Yasumasa Morimura has primarily shown his work in international solo exhibitions, although he has been involved in various group exhibitions...more.

Plate 1: Daughter of Art History - Yasumasa Morimura 2003


As appose to Plate 2: Frida Kahlo "Self Portrait"

Ask these short answer questions:

  1. What was Yasumasa's comment on appropriating Frida Kahlo's self portrait?
  2. Explain Yasumasa's art practice.
  3. How does he challenge the world in his unique approach to his art?
Students will do the research for both artist models critically and historically provide the critical understanding of each image and the historical account which plays an importance to their development as an artist.

Plate 3: Anne Zahalka, The Bathers, 1989 Type C Print, 90cm x 74cm


   Charles (Matthew) Meere

  Australian beach pattern

  oil on canvas

  25.6 x 33.7 in. / 65 x 85.5 cm.

  1940 -

Look at Plates 3 and 4. Give an account of the importance of the materials in the development of each artist approach to artmaking.

We will use Corel to manipulate images to create different affects...