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January 06 2012

The month in photography – audio slideshow

Our guide to the month's best photo exhibitions and books – featuring Pieter Hugo, Eve Arnold, William Eggleston, Don McCullin and Annie Leibovitz

September 21 2011

National Portrait Gallery celebrates 70 years of British comedy

Exhibit includes modern performers Russell Brand and Johnny Vegas, as well as stars from the past such as Kenneth Horne

From Benny Hill looking dirty-minded to Johnny Vegas looking sexy, the National Portrait Gallery in London is celebrating British comedy in a free display that includes several recent acquisitions.

The gallery said it had acquired a photograph originally commissioned by the Guardian, which shows Vegas mimicking Demi Moore's pregnant pose on the cover of Vanity Fair. The photograph is one of more than 20 taken by Karl J Kaul, including Sacha Baron Cohen as Michael Jackson and Russell Brand as Christine Keeler.

Other recent acquisitions include portraits of Jimmy Carr and Mitchell and Webb by Barry Marsden, Omid Djalili by Karen Robinson and Matt Lucas by Nadav Kander. The display charts 70 years of British comedy, from people such as Kenneth Horne in the 1940s to the Catherine Tate Show. Along the way it takes in comedians and comic performers from the Goon Show to Les Dawson to Victoria Wood.

Clare Freestone, the gallery's associate curator of photographs, said the NPG aimed to promote an appreciation of people who have made and are making British history and culture. "Comedians do this in a unique way," she said. "They are very good at reflecting back at us the times in which we live and, of course, they make us laugh."

She said the gallery had a large number of photographs of comedians taken over the last century, some by celebrated photographers such as Bill Brandt, Lewis Morley and Annie Leibovitz.

"This display gave us the opportunity to highlight a group of people that have always been held high in public affection, with their performances often creating national talking points."

Comedians: From the 1940s to Now runs until 8 January 2012 © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

March 09 2010

Annie Leibovitz keeps photo rights in debt deal

Agreement with private equity owners of Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch will pay off celebrity photographer's previous $15m loan

Top photographer Annie Leibovitz has struck a deal with a private equity firm that will solve the financial crisis that threatened her with bankruptcy last year.

Under the agreement, Los Angeles-based Colony Capital will become Leibovitz's sole creditor. Colony will provide Leibovitz with a loan to pay off her previous borrowings, and work with her on future projects.

Crucially, the deal means that Leibovitz will retain the rights to more than 100,000 photos taken during a career which includes famous images of Demi Moore, Bruce Springsteen, and John Lennon – taken on the day he died.

Leibovitz's finances hit trouble last year, and by February 2009 she had borrowed $15.5m (£10.3m) from Art Capital Group, a company that lends money to art owners. To secure the loans she put up the rights to all her photographs as collateral, along with several houses she owned. But the deal quickly turned sour. In July, lawyers for Art Capital Group claimed that Leibovitz had reneged on a promise to sell her back catalogue to repay her debts, and sued her for $24m.

Media reports claimed Leibovitz was facing bankruptcy, but the two sides eventually reached an agreement to extend the lifetime of the loans. It appears that the deal with Colony will allow the celebrity snapper to pay off Art Capital Group without losing control of her life's work.

"Colony is a dedicated and creative team," said Leibovitz, according to the Financial Times. "We will be working on new projects and I will have the support and freedom necessary for nurturing my work and preserving my archive."

Colony is more usually involved with property deals. In 2008 it bought a loan on Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch, which left it with the rights to the 2,700-acre California estate.

Tom Barrack, who founded Colony, said his company would be "partners in managing her assets and her business so that Annie can spend her time and focus in pursuing her passion as only she can do". © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

January 04 2010

Tiger Woods turns coverboy

• 'Raw, never before see' shoot took place before revelations
EA Sports stand by their man and prepare for new golf game

When he announced over three weeks ago that he was taking an "indefinite break" from golf to "repair the damage I've done", this may not have been the image change Tiger Woods had in mind.

The disgraced golfer appealed for privacy last month following lurid allegations of affairs with up to 14 women "to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person".

Today, however, new photographs emerged in which Woods is pictured not in a contrite tableau with his wife and two children, but posing aggressively, and apparently naked, staring into the camera with a dumbbell in each hand.

Vanity Fair, in which the pictures by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz appear, has not confirmed when they were taken, though it does say the "raw, never before seen" photo shoot took place before the golfer's fall from grace.

The golfer's squeaky clean image collapsed following a bizarre car crash outside his home in November, after which a number of women emerged claiming they had affairs with Woods, what Buzz Bissinger, a Vanity Fair writer, refers to as the golfer's "harem". It is a measure of how far Woods has fallen that where the magazine is usually unfailingly deferential in its treatment of its celebrity cover stars, Bissinger lists in detail the allegations made by the women, which he summarises more coyly as "sex, tons of it, in allegedly all different varieties".

Woods had a positive approval rating of 87% in 2005; it is now 33%, Vanity Fair notes, describing it as "one of the greatest recorded drops in popularity of any nonpolitical figure". © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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