A portrait of Susan Sontag by Peter Hujar
Over on Looking Around, Richard Lacayo has published a post about Annie Leibovitz's photographs of Susan Sontag during the latest stages of the illness that killed her, specifically their inclusion in traveling retrospective of Leibovitz's work. The meat of the story is fascinating in and of itself, but it's of particular interest to me in the context of the broader conversation about portraiture in general. An excerpt:
The black and white portion of the show was there to insist that she was more than Hollywood's court photographer, and in that context the pictures of Sontag in her final days felt like a career move, another part of her bid for seriousness, no matter how genuine her grief, which I have no reason to question. And it was the context that turned the pictures into images of "celebrity death". When I read Rieff's [ed. note: Sontag's son] bitter words I thought of something Sontag wrote in Illness as Metaphor — that the worst legacy of Romanticism was the notion of "the interesting".
It's good, thought-provoking reading that makes me want to read more (more Sontag, more Lacayo) and think more (about portraiture.) I suggest reading the item in its entirety.