(left) Steven Klein:Madonna, Paris Vogue (August) Ryan McGinley: "The Strokes," New York Times Magazine(August 8)
Among the other 2004 issues worth holding onto are two pegged to the summer Olympics: Ryan McGinley's ecstatic underwater pictures of the U.S. swim team in The New York Times Magazine and Weber's black-and-white portfolio of American athletes in Vanity Faira reprise two decades later of a 1984 Interview Olympics issue that's since become a cult collectible. Virtually all the others in my tight Top 10 are fashion-related, including Annie Leibovitz's "High Art," photographed with typically restrained extravagance in the not-quite-finished Museum of Modern Art for Vogue. Leibovitz's portrait work in Vogue and Vanity Fair is so flawlessly state-of-the-art she could have her own Top 10, but she's also become a fine fashion photographer over the past few years, with a witty, Beaton-esque sense of theater. Of course she faces serious been-there, done-that competition from Steven Meisel, who, even in an off year, is hard to beat. His cross-dressing "Asexual Revolution" in the October W, with its topless girls and boys in heels, was silly and sensational, verging on self-parody. It wasn't half as good (or as tantalizingly believable) as his "Night Clubbing" story in September's Italian Vogue, or as spectacularly versatile as the 82-page portrait sequence that opened up January's Italian Vogue, but it still got under your skin. And besides, it was in W, another marvelously supportive but even more handsomely oversize editorial environment, where pictures just pop. Steven Klein, who had an extremely productive if erratic year, looked his best in the May W with a smashing, sexy Naomi Campbell spread called "Showgirl." The same month found him in need of a ruthless editor for an all-Brad Pitt issue of L'Uomo Vogue that was half genius, half delusional. I'll stick to the genius part, thanks.
Matthias Vriens: Pharrell Williams blows a bubble, The Face (January)