Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990–2005
Annie Leibovitz (born 1949) is one of the most celebrated portrait photographers of our time. Since 1970, her iconic images, which capture the varied spectrum of American life and popular culture with remarkable candor and vigor, have appeared in Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and Vogue, in prominent advertising campaigns, and in books and museums.
Almost all of the 197 photographs in this exhibition were taken in the years since 1990. During this time Leibovitz produced her famous images of a pregnant Demi Moore and of Nelson Mandela in Soweto, photographed the siege of Sarajevo, expanded her repertory to include landscape imagery, documented the inception of the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov, and created advertising campaigns for the Gap and American Express. On a personal level, she experienced the deaths of her father and of her long-time friend, the writer Susan Sontag, and the births of her three daughters.
The exhibition offers an exceptional view of Leibovitz’s oeuvre. Work made on assignment as a professional photographer is interwoven with personal pictures. A series of images documents Sontag’s hospitalization and recovery from cancer and then a subsequent recurrence of the disease, ending in searing photographs of her final days and her death. Equally direct are photographs of the artist’s aging and ill father, who died shortly after Sontag. The emotionally fraught depictions of illness and death are leavened with pictures of joyous family gatherings and tender and beautiful pictures of Leibovitz’s daughter Sarah and her twins, Susan and Samuelle.
The exhibition and its accompanying book, published by Random House, bear witness to something the artist realized as she was preparing the material. “I don’t have two lives,” she said. “This is one life, and the personal pictures and the assignment work are all part of it.”