Sunday, October 25, 2009

Meet the First Family

The Obama administration made good on its promise to improve the economy of working Americans for one notable working American down on her luck. The result is the new official portrait of the nation’s first family — an image that radiates possibilities for a country still down at the heels.

On Sept. 1, Annie Leibovitz, the photographer who parlayed early work with Rolling Stone magazine with an ascendant fascination with popular culture and made herself a brand name in the process, took the portrait in the Green Room of the White House. 

The 44th president sits with First Lady Michelle, and the daughters, Malia and Sasha (who’s got to stop being so utterly adorable, right now).

Leibovitz needed the work. The photographer, whom I interviewed in 2003, had reportedly borrowed about $24 million from New York-based Art Capital Group, using the rights to her 30 years-plus archive of photographs and the value of personal properties as collateral.

AP reported that last year, “Leibovitz put up as collateral three Manhattan townhouses, an upstate New York property and the copyright to every picture she has ever taken – or will take – to secure the loan.” She got an extension on the loan last month.

Her latest effort is an inspiring thing for Americans in general, and black Americans in particular. Faced with economic challenges and personal headwinds, the country needs these little symbols of normal in a time that’s anything but.

The administration has made much of stimulus packages in the past nine months. Here’s to the emotional stimulus we got, and the financial stimulus Annie Leibovitz needed.
Image credits: The Obamas: The White House/© 2009 Annie Leibovitz. Leibovitz: AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth.

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