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Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005
February 10 - April 22, 2007
The San Diego Museum of Art is the first West Coast venue for a major internationally touring exhibition of the leading contemporary photographer Annie Leibovitz from February 10 to April 22, 2007. Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005 features approximately 200 photographs by Leibovitz, including family photographs and portraits of public figures, such as Colin Powell, Nicole Kidman, Brad Pitt, Merce Cunningham, and Bill Clinton. These compelling photographs provide a rare glimpse into the wide range of subjects captured by Leibovitz, who is counted among the most celebrated photographers of our time.
Organized by the Brooklyn Museum and sponsored by American Express, the exhibition encompasses work Leibovitz made on assignment as a professional photographer, as well as personal photographs of her family and close friends. "I don't have two lives," Leibovitz says. "This is one life, and the personal pictures and the assignment work are all part of it." The photographer's personal material, images that many are less familiar with, reflect Leibovitz's talents in a way that differs from her public career. They document the birth of her three daughters and many events involving her large family, including the death of her father.
Leibovitz's recognizable portraits of public figures include the pregnant Demi Moore, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rob Besserer on Cumberland Island, George W. Bush with members of his Cabinet at the White House, Michael Moore at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, William S. Burroughs in Kansas, and Agnes Martin in Taos. Her assignment work includes searing reportage from the siege of Sarajevo in the early 1990s and a series of landscapes taken in the American West and in the Jordanian desert.
"This is a landmark exhibition of a major photographer's work," says SDMA executive director Derrick Cartwright. "Few contemporary photographers can rival Annie Leibovitz in terms of sheer popularity and immediate familiarity. Her imagery compels deeper attention to the critical dimensions of photojournalism and has earned Leibovitz the respect of both her subjects and her peers. We look forward to sharing this gifted artist's memorable craft with our visitors and we are proud to be the first West Coast venue for this major project."
Annie Leibovitz has been making witty, powerful images documenting American popular culture since the early 1970s, when her work began appearing in Rolling Stone. She became the magazine's chief photographer in 1973 and ten years later began working for Vanity Fair, and then Vogue, creating a legendary body of work. In addition to her magazine work, Leibovitz has created influential advertising campaigns for American Express, Gap, Givenchy, The Sopranos, and the Milk Board. The subject of several museum and gallery retrospectives, she was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 2000 and one of the thirty-five Innovators of Our Time by Smithsonian Magazine in 2005.
(above: Annie Leibovitz, My parents with my sisters Paula and Barbara and Paula's son Ross, Peter's Pond Beach, Wainscott, Long Island, 1992. © Annie Leibovitz)
From the SDMA Director
Few names in contemporary art enjoy the same level of recognition as Annie Leibovitz. Her lush color photographs of Hollywood celebrities, athletes, musicians, visual artists, and heads of state are well known to us from both popular media sources and from books. Like some legendary figures from throughout the history of photography-Matthew Brady in New York and Felix Tournachon (a.k.a. Nadar) in Paris, for example-the name Leibovitz has in our day become virtually synonymous with attention-grabbing portraiture of irrefutably mass appeal. In her own right, Leibovitz can claim credentials as both an artist and celebrity.
Opening this winter, Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 19902005 provides a comprehensive survey of the artist's public and private work with over 200 images. Visitors who are already familiar with her bold, often unconventional treatments of well-known sitters will not be disappointed with the exhibition. Demi Moore, Johnny Depp, Kate Moss, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Nicole Kidman, and Mick Jagger can all be found in the galleries.
One of the great surprises of this exhibition, however, is that it is not merely an accumulation of marquee portraiture for which Leibovitz is justly famous. The exhibition includes the full spectrum of her artistic practice. There are large-scale landscapes, family snapshots, and images of gripping personal significance. A Photographer's Life presents the first thorough investigation of how this artist combines her professional and personal worlds.
The SDMA galleries will become a fitting context for the study of Leibovitz's approach to representing creative individuals as they face the camera. In addition to the portraits of U.S. Presidents, rock stars, and Oscar winners, A Photographer's Life is well stocked with images that will be familiar to aficionados of contemporary high culture: the dancer Bill T. Jones soars gracefully in front of a stage backdrop, the controversial performance artist Karen Finley twists her nude body in a pose that self-consciously recalls a famous photograph by Edgar Degas, the American intellectual Susan Sontag stands beside the British painter Howard Hodgkin waiting for the vaporetto on a foggy day in Venice. These poignant works join other, still more unexpected images by Leibovitz, creating a memorably rich album that documents the photographer's firsthand encounters with fame and family, home and assignment, public exultation and private pain, birth, and death.
SDMA is the second venue for this internationally touring exhibition that opened in Brooklyn last October. The exhibition tour is accompanied by a 472-page, fully illustrated book of her photography, featuring hundreds of black-and-white and color photos, approximately 200 of which will be included in our presentation.
(above: Annie Leibovitz, Susan Sontag, Petra, Jordan, 1994.© Annie Leibovitz)
Annie Leibovitz's witty, powerful portraits have been appearing on magazine covers for more than thirty years, and she is recognized as one of the most celebrated photographers of our time. She was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, and spent her childhood on a succession of military bases. Her father was a career officer in the Air Force. While studying painting at the San Francisco Art Institute she took night classes in photography, and in 1970 she began doing work for Rolling Stone magazine. Her first major assignment was for a cover story on John Lennon. She became Rolling Stone's chief photographer in 1973 and by the time she left the magazine, ten years later, she had shot one hundred and forty-two covers and published photo essays on scores of stories, including her memorable accounts of the resignation of Richard Nixon and of the 1975 Rolling Stones tour.
Leibovitz joined the staff of Vanity Fair in 1983 and in 1998 also began working for Vogue. In addition to her magazine editorial work, she has created influential advertising campaigns for American Express, the Gap, Givenchy, The Sopranos, and the Milk Board. She has published several books and exhibited widely, including at the International Center of Photography in New York and at the National Portrait Gallery and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
She is the recipient of many honors, including the Infinity Award in Applied Photography from the International Center of Photography and the Barnard College Medal of Distinction. She is a Commandeur in the French government's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 2005, in a compilation of the forty top magazine covers of the past forty years by the American Society of Magazine editors, she was awarded both Number One (the photograph of John Lennon and Yoko Ono taken for Rolling Stone the day Lennon was shot) and Number Two (the pregnant Demi Moore for Vanity Fair). She has been designated a Living Legend by the Library of Congress and one of thirty-five "innovators of our time" by Smithsonian Magazine.
Leibovitz lives in New York with her three children, Sarah, Susan, and Samuelle.
(above: Annie Leibovitz, Nicole Kidman, New York, 2003. © Annie Leibovitz)
In conjunction with Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005, running from February 10 to April 22, 2007, the San Diego Museum of Art is presenting an exciting assortment of programs, including insightful lectures, the spring edition of Culture & Cocktails, and a special film series.
For more information on SDMA's programs, please call (619) 696-1969. To purchase advance tickets, please call Ticketmaster at (619) 220-8497. Museum members receive the discounted price for each of the events listed. Programs and artists are subject to change.
To view the working checklist as of 11.28.06 pease click here
(above: Annie Leibovitz, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rob Besserer, Cumberland Island, Georgia, 1990. © Annie Leibovitz)
Resource Library readers may also enjoy:
and this VHS video:
Annie Leibovitz: Celebrity Photographer is a portrait of the celebrated portrait photographer known for her famous subjects. Annie Leibovitz began her professional career at Rolling Stone and became Vanity Fair's first contributing photographer, and one of the highest paid photographers of our day. VHS/DVD. This 51 minute 1993 program produced by RM Arts; Middlemarch Films from the South Bank Show series, produced for London Weekend Television, contains nudity and explicit language and is directed by Rebecca Frayn.
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