Annie Leibovitz's first big Washington show was at Govinda Gallery in 1984.
That was when she was still most famous for her work at Rolling Stone, the portraits and journalism from a world defined by a rock sensibility.
When she left Rolling Stone, Mark Seliger was one of the photographers who would keep alive her tradition of puckish grandiosity, starting in 1987. Now he's got a big, bright show at Govinda Gallery too, opening tomorrow.
Two rooms of mostly 16-by-20-inch prints show us youth-market celebrities:
Jerry Seinfeld costumed as the Tin Man; Sean Lennon in a silver suit, snapping his fingers on some pastry-pink-and-blue set of a boardwalk; Bruce Springsteen in four days' growth of beard, and a look that comes rushing out of the picture to ask the sad, wise and eternal New Jersey question: WhaddaYOOlookinat?
Seliger has the knack of showing people the way you think they are. Or maybe he shows them the way you think they think you think they are. In any case, there's a tone to this show that reminds you of people at a Halloween party congratulating each other on their costumes: Keith Richards whose mere face is pirate regalia, Drew Barrymore in a skimpy scouting outfit looking sweetly fatalistic as a group of Boy Scouts ties her up; Neil Young as the genial, soulful slob/hero of rock-and-roll endurance; Jennifer Aniston gallivanting through a sunset wheat field and wearing nothing but a transparent scarf; Sean Penn with cigarette.
Technique is front and center. Just the sheer amount of the lighting and set-building creates the confectionary universe that we like to imagine our fave raves inhabiting in an ongoing rampage of play nastiness and ironic playfulness. Seliger takes your shopworn expectations and waxes them up, paints the tires black and Armor-Alls the seats like a car detailing shop.
CAPTION: Sitcom stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jerry Seinfeld in a 1993 portrait by Mark Seliger.