Annie Leibovitz (American, b. 1949) Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rob Besserer, Cumberland Island, Georgia, 1990. Photograph © Annie Leibovitz. From Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990 – 2005
It's not every day that we're given the opportunity to walk an exhibit with an artist who, in the process of photographing cultural icons, has become one herself -- and who has even been officially designated a Living Legend by the Library of Congress. We spent Friday morning viewing Annie Liebovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005, with Annie and hearing her unique perspective on her work. And we left feeling both starstruck, and inspired.
Annie Leibovitz (American, b. 1949) My Parents with My Sisters Paula and Barbara and Paula's Son, Peter's Pond Beach, Wainscott, Long Island, 1992. Photograph © Annie Leibovitz. From Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990 - 2005
The retrospective includes over 200 photographs, ranging from celebrity portraits to gorgeous, haunting landscapes to photojournalism from the siege of Sarajevo -- to intensely personal photographs of friends and family. Leibovitz says, "I don't have two lives. This is one life, and the personal pictures and the assignment work are all part of it." Yesterday she added, "This show is closest to my heart."
Leibovitz was open, warm, funny. She told stories about photographing Demi Moore, Queen Elizabeth, and the Bush Administration. She also told of how when she arrived to photograph Philip Johnson's Glass House, at first she was disappointed that he was actually there. But then she felt so privileged to be able to see his family living in the house -- and she got to ask silly questions: "I said, 'How do you get air into the building?' and he looked at me like I was nuts and said, 'You open the door.'"
She said, "One of my weaknesses is I like to like people... I wanted to be Diane Arbus. I couldn't be Diane Arbus. That's my Achilles heel. I like to like people." And it shows. Yesterday, San Francisco philanthropist (and President of the Board of Trustees of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco) Dede Wilsey quoted her son Todd as describing Leibovitz like this: "She photographs with love." Yes, she does.
Annie Leibovitz (American, b. 1949) Monument Valley, Arizona, 1993. Photograph © Annie Leibovitz. From Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990 – 2005 Courtesy of Condé Nast Traveler
The exhibition opens today, and will be on view until May 25 at the Legion of Honor. It includes Liebovitz's huge, amazing landscapes, which aren't shown at every venue in the exhibition tour. Click here for more information.
(See Victoria's post about the morning here, on sfgirlbybay.)