Rihanna’s new book is an autobiography for the Instagram age
Rihanna’s self-titled “visual autobiography” has an immense physical presence: It weighs 15 pounds, stands over 16 inches tall, and calls to be set down on a table to be studied, like an artifact in a museum.
The book contains over 1,000 photos — a testament to Rihanna’s status, not just as a musician, designer and businesswoman, but as a visual icon. Aside from brief captions and headings, there are no words at all, not even an introduction.
The cover of Rihanna’s “visual autobiography,” officially published by Phaidon on October 24. Credit: Phaidon
Many of the photos are likely to be instantly recognizable to the most devoted members of Rihanna’s fanbase — known as the Navy — who have tracked her career closely. Yet, it still provides new insight into the megastar’s life.
For example, there’s a fold-out spread of her early years in Barbados, offering a glimpse of her childhood as Robyn Fenty (Rihanna is her middle name). Photos and news clippings document her victory in the Mr. & Miss Combermere Pageant at age 16, while an earlier school report reads, “Robyn is a consistent worker who takes pride in doing her work well.”
The musician works on her eighth album, Anti, in 2015, with Marcos Tovar and Kuk Harrell in Malibu, California. Credit: Dennis Leupold/Phaidon
A spread is dedicated to Rihanna’s 23rd birthday party, at which she’s pictured smoking a cigar as Jay-Z opens a gold champagne bottle and Beyoncé smiles beside him. She winces as a London tattooist works on her famous sternum tattoo of Egyptian goddess Isis.
Several pages depict a party held for her grandfather, Lionel “Bravo” Brathwaite, complete with a cake shaped like a bottle of Banks Caribbean Lager.
Backstage at the 2016 Anti World Tour at Miami’s American Airlines Arena, with Nadine “Hi-Hat” Ruffin, Monica Fenty, Naphia White and Mylah Morales. Credit: Dennis Leupold/Phaidon
Rihanna and close friend Melissa Forde in Oahu, Hawaii in 2015. Credit: Dennis Leupold/Phaidon
Rihanna heads to a 2014 Christian Dior show in Paris. Credit: Dennis Leupold/Phaidon
The book gives fans an extra glimpse inside her life and elevates those private moments into the realms of a permanent historical record.