Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Artist Spotlight: Annie Leibovitz's new book Pilgrimage

Image courtesy of Seattle Arts and Lectures
Annie Liebovitz is the most prolific photographer of our time.  She has worked as a photographer for 30 years and is responsible for some of the most iconic photos in history. 

Liebovitz took this picture with a Polaroid camera. John Lennon would be shot dead five hours later.  It is one of the most famous photos of all time.

Leibovitz took this photo for the August 1991 Vanity Fair cover- what would become a huge controversy and widely discussed throughout the country.  Did the image contribute to the sexualization of the maternal female form or did it help to empower women?

Whatever the result, both this magazine cover and the photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono on the cover of Rolling Stone in  January 1981, were voted the #1 and #2 most influential magazine covers of all time by TIME magazine. 

Leibovitz is also known for her photographs of musicians, the royals, movie stars, dancers-

Johnny Cash and June Cater

Iggy Pop
The White Stripes

Queen Elizabeth
Nicole Kidman
Mikhail Baryshnikov
Angelina Jolie

Leibovitz is also known for her Vanity Fair "The Hollywood Issue" photo montages-

April 2003 "Alpha List"
April 2002 "Rhapsody In Blue"

March 2008 "Fresh Faces"

Leibovitz has published seven books featuring her portrait photography- her favorite subjects acquired throughout her career as a photographer for Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair.

I have always loved Leibovitz's work but her new book is a complete departure from what we know of Leibovitz...and I loved every minute of it.

Pilgramage is a homage to everyone and every place that has influenced Leibovitz's career as an artist, a woman and a mother.  She traveled to the locations that have inspired some of the greatest, influential people in this world.  She shows us the intimate spaces where some of the greatest minds of our time flourished.  She showcases the objects that inspired the people who inspired her and the world.  The list of people she highlights in this book is expansive, varied and eclectic- a perfect mix of artists, writers, politicians, musicians, philosophers...and shows them as people.  Leibovitz is able to reclaim the emotion of inanimate objects and give them a voice. 

A book of pressed flowers Emily Dickinson created when she was a little girl

Emily Dickinson's only surviving dress

"the Mountain" outside of Georgia O'Keeffe's house that showed up in many of her pieces

Georgia O'Keeffe's box of pastels

The gloves Abraham Lincoln was wearing the night he was assassinated at Ford's Theatre

Annie Oakley's target

Old Faithful

Sigmund Freud's couch

Ansel Adams' darkroom

Virginia Woolf's bedroom
Leibovitz is very accomplished at combining the humanity and glamour of her subjects...and it was amazing to see that even though there are no people in these new photos, you do not miss them.  It feels like if you look at the photo long enough, the person will walk in. 

I have been in awe of Leibovitz for a very long time, but I have a new level of respect for the artist she is and this new place she has taken us to.  She once again has created a book of portraits...a book of portraits that embodies it's subjects more than any of her other photos have...and there were no people.

I loved it! Loved it! Loved it!

(photographs from Pilgrimage by Annie Leibovitz, Copyright © 2011 A.L. Archive LLC.)

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