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Annie Leibovitz

© Annie Leibovitz

© Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz was born in 1949 in Connecticut. She bought her first camera in the summer of 1968, when she was a student at the San Francisco Art Institute, and her early works are punctuated by images of the Bay Area landscape and photographs shot during drives the artist often took on the highways between San Francisco and Los Angeles. She switched majors from painting to photography, and while still a student, in 1970, she approached Rolling Stone magazine – just three years after its inception – with a few of her pictures. Some of them were published, thus beginning her career as a photojournalist and embarking on what would develop into a symbiotic relationship between the young photographer and a magazine famous for reflecting the American zeitgeist. Leibovitz’s first major assignment was for a cover story on John Lennon.


Leibovitz became Rolling Stone’s chief photographer in 1973, and by the time she left the magazine, she had amassed 142 covers and published photo essays on scores of stories, including the 1975 Rolling Stones tour. Moments of freedom and an unyielding imagination fed the evolution of Leibovitz’s photography. The monumental body of work taken during her thirteen-year tenure at Rolling Stone blurred the lines between celebrity and civilian, interviewer and interviewee, artist and subject, dissolving the boundary separating Leibovitz from those captured in her photographs. Documenting fellow reporters and photographers in addition to their subjects, Leibovitz highlighted those hidden behind the camera and brought them to the forefront.

Leibovitz recorded major political moments of the Seventies in the United States, including the 1972 presidential campaign, which she covered with the writer Hunter S. Thompson. In a haunting photograph taken when President Richard Nixon resigned, on August 9, 1974, Leibovitz’s camera records his helicopter as it takes off from the White House lawn. Her immersion within the political landscape extended to photographs from the 1976 election, when figures such as Jerry Brown and Jimmy Carter seized national attention. The artist photographed the Democratic National Convention in New York City, showcasing candid moments with Dianne Feinstein and journalists such as Sally Quinn and Dan Rather. Leibovitz’s unobtrusive lens implicates both the photographer and her colleagues as significant actors and contributors to cultural moments.

When traveling with the Rolling Stones to document their tour of the Americas in the summer of 1975, Leibovitz entered the band’s world to such a degree that only her camera served as a reminder of her identity. It was Leibovitz’s distinct ability to immerse herself in varying environments that enabled a direct engagement with her subjects, revealing their true, honest, and perhaps most vulnerable selves.

Leibovitz began using a medium-format camera that produced square photographs and was appropriate for shooting set-up portraits with a strobe light. The planned portraits were based on a straightforward idea often stemming from a deeply personal collaboration with her subjects. Evidencing a level of uncanny intimacy and an uncommon depth of engagement, this relationship can be seen in one of her most celebrated photographs, in which a naked John Lennon clutches Yoko Ono. The portrait, made on December 8, 1980, was meant to serve as an intimate emblem of the couple’s relationship. When Lennon was killed just hours after the photo was taken, the image became a powerful visual memorial.

In 1983, when Leibovitz joined the staff of the revived Vanity Fair, she was established as the foremost rock-music photographer and an astute documentarian of the social landscape. At Vanity Fair, and later at Vogue, she developed a large body of work – portraits of actors, directors, writers, musicians, athletes, and political and business figures, as well as fashion photographs. Leibovitz’s portraiture reflects a signature technique she developed early in her career, as she consciously and consistently fit style to subject through collaborating with her subjects, photographing them in their homes or in a location that meant something to them, where friends, lovers, children, and other personal markers might appear.

Annie Leibovitz’s prolific output and her inventive approach to photography itself position her distinctly within the traditions and trajectory of American portraiture during the twentieth century. Her unique photographic language dovetailed with – and advanced – the medium’s evolution as a force for art making. The singularity of her vision, which included combining portraiture with photojournalism that captured historical and cultural touchstones throughout the United States and abroad, places her within a lineage of some of her personal heroes – artists like Andy Warhol and Richard Avedon, both innovators of their mediums. Influences such as Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson inspired Leibovitz to turn the tide on photography’s reception. Combining Frank’s highly personal and emotional style of photographic reportage with Cartier-Bresson’s Surrealist and even sculptural art photography, Leibovitz embraced her own inclination toward personal journalism. The artist’s large and distinguished body of work encompasses some of the most well-known portraits of our time.

Leibovitz is the recipient of many honors. In 2006 she was made a Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. The previous year, in a compilation of the forty top magazine covers of the past forty years by the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME), she held the top two spots (#1 for the photograph of John Lennon and Yoko Ono taken for Rolling Stone the day Lennon was shot, and #2 for the pregnant Demi Moore in Vanity Fair). In 2009, she received the International Center of Photography’s Lifetime Achievement Award, ASME’s first Creative Excellence Award, and the Centenary Medal of the Royal Photographic Society in London. In 2012, she was the recipient of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art Award to Distinguished Women in the Arts and the Wexner Prize. In 2013 she received the Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities. She was the inaugural recipient of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Contemporary Vision Award in 2015. In 2018, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in the Arts from the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Leibovitz has been designated a Living Legend by the Library of Congress. She lives and works in New York.

Biography

Born Waterbury CT, 1949

Education

BFA, San Francisco Art Institute, 1971

Resides Lives and works in New York NY

Solo Exhibitions

2019 Hauser & Wirth, 'Annie Leibovitz. The Early Years, 1970–1983. Archive Project No. 1', Los Angeles CA

2017 ewz-Unterwerk Selnau, 'Women. New Portraits', Zurich, Switzerland (Travelling Exhibition)
Luma Arles, 'Annie Leibovitz. The Early Years, 1970–1983. Archive Project #1', Arles, France (Travelling Exhibition)

2016 Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, 'Women. New Portraits', London, UK (Travelling Exhibition)
TOLOT/heuristic SHINONOME, 'Women. New Portraits', Tokyo, Japan (Travelling Exhibition)
The Presidio's Crissy Field, 'Women. New Portraits', San Francisco CA (Travelling Exhibition)
Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, 'Women. New Portraits', Singapore (Travelling Exhibition)
Cheung Hing Industrial Building, 'Women. New Portraits', Kennedy Town, Hong Kong (Travelling Exhibition)
Proyecto Público Prim, 'Women. New Portraits', Mexico City, Mexico (Travelling Exhibition)
Fabbrica Orobia 15, 'Women. New Portraits', Milan, Italy (Travelling Exhibition)
Kunstverein Familie Montez, 'Women. New Portraits', Frankfurt, Germany (Travelling Exhibition)
The Former Bayview Correctional Facility, 'Women. New Portraits', New York NY (Travelling Exhibition)

2014 Columbia Museum of Art, 'Pilgrimage', Columbia SC (Travelling Exhibition)
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, 'Pilgrimage', Springfield IL (Travelling Exhibition)
ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands, 'A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005', Singapore (Travelling Exhibition)
New-York Historical Society, 'Pilgrimage', New York NY (Travelling Exhibition)

2013 Norton Museum of Art, 'Annie Leibovitz', West Palm Beach FL
Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, 'Pilgrimage', Santa Fe NM (Travelling Exhibition)
San Jose Museum of Art, 'Pilgrimage', San Jose CA (Travelling Exhibition)
Seoul Arts Center, 'A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005', Seoul, South Korea

2012 Smithsonian American Art Museum, 'Pilgrimage', Washington D.C (Travelling Exhibition)
Concord Museum, 'Pilgrimage', Concord MA (Travelling Exhibition)
Wexner Center for the Arts, 'Annie Leibovitz', Columbus OH
Gettysburg National Military Park, 'Pilgrimage', Gettysburg PA (Travelling Exhibition)

2011 Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, 'Annie Leibovitz. Dance', Becket MA
Hermitage Museum, 'A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005', St. Petersburg, Russia (Travelling Exhibition)
Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, 'A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005', Moscow, Russia (Travelling Exhibition)

2010 Fotografiska, 'A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005', Stockholm, Sweden (Travelling Exhibition)
Museum of Contemporary Art, 'A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005', Sydney, Australia (Travelling Exhibition)

2009 C/O Berlin, 'A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005', Berlin, Germany (Travelling Exhibition)
Alcalá 31, 'A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005', Madrid, Spain (Travelling Exhibition)
Kunst Haus Wien, 'A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005', Vienna, Austria (Travelling Exhibition)

2008 Fine Art Museums of San Francisco, 'A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005', San Francisco CA (Travelling Exhibition)
Maison Européenne de la Photographie, 'A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005', Paris France (Travelling Exhibition)
National Portrait Gallery, 'A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005', London, UK (Travelling Exhibition)

2007 San Diego Museum of Art, 'A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005', San Diego CA (Travelling Exhibition)
High Museum of Art, 'A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005', Atlanta GA (Travelling Exhibition)
Corcoran Gallery of Art, 'A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005', Washington D.C (Travelling Exhibition)

2006 C/O Berlin, 'American Music', Berlin, Germany (Travelling Exhibition)
The Detroit Institute of Arts, 'American Music', Detroit MI (Travelling Exhibition)
Brooklyn Museum, 'A Photographer's Life, 1990–2005', Brooklyn NY (Travelling Exhibition)

2005 Fahey-Klein Gallery, 'American Music', Los Angeles CA (Travelling Exhibition)
Austin Museum of Art, 'American Music', Austin TX (Travelling Exhibition)
Jackson Fine Art, 'American Music', Atlanta GA (Travelling Exhibition)
Foam Fotografiemuseum, 'American Music', Amsterdam, Netherlands (Travelling Exhibition)
Boston Public Library, 'In Response to Place. Photographs from the Nature Conservancy's Last Great Places', Boston MA (Travelling Exhibition)

2004 The Hospital, 'American Music', London UK (Travelling Exhibition)
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, 'American Music', Cleveland OH (Travelling Exhibition)
Edwynn Houk Gallery, 'American Music', New York NY (Travelling Exhibition)
Andrew Smith Gallery, 'American Music', Santa Fe NM (Travelling Exhibition)

2003 Indianapolis Museum of Art, 'In Response to Place. Photographs from the Nature Conservancy's Last Great Places', Indianapolis IN (Travelling Exhibition)
Experience Music Project, 'American Music', Seattle WA (Travelling Exhibition)

2002 Houston Museum of Science, 'In Response to Place. Photographs from the Nature Conservancy's Last Great Places', Houston TX (Travelling Exhibition)
Friends of Photography, 'In Response to Place. Photographs from the Nature Conservancy's Last Great Places', San Francisco CA (Travelling Exhibition)
The Women's Museum, 'Annie Leibovitz. Women', Dallas TX (Travelling Exhibition)
High Museum of Art, 'In Response to Place. Photographs from the Nature Conservancy's Last Great Places', Atlanta GA (Travelling Exhibition)

2001 Corcoran Gallery of Art, 'In Response to Place. Photographs from the Nature Conservancy's Last Great Places', Washington D.C. (Travelling Exhibition)
Miami Art Museum, 'Annie Leibovitz. Women', Miami FL (Travelling Exhibition)
Ansel Adams Center for Photography, 'Annie Leibovitz. Women', San Francisco CA (Travelling Exhibition)
Seattle Art Museum, 'Annie Leibovitz. Women', Seattle WA (Travelling Exhibition)
Galerie Kamel Mennour, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1994', Paris France (Travelling Exhibition)

2000 Phoenix Art Museum, 'Annie Leibovitz. Women', Phoenix AZ (Travelling Exhibition)
International Center of Photography, 'Annie Leibovitz. Women', New York NY (Travelling Exhibition)
Bolshoy Manezh, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1994', Moscow, Russia (Travelling Exhibition)
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 'Stardust. Annie Leibovitz 1970–1999', Humlebaek, Denmark (Travelling Exhibition)

1999 Helsinki City Art Museum, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1994', Helsinki, Finland (Travelling Exhibition)
Corcoran Gallery of Art, 'Annie Leibovitz. Women', Washington D.C. (Travelling Exhibition)

1998 Center for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1994', Warsaw, Poland (Travelling Exhibition)
Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1994', Budapest, Hungary (Travelling Exhibition)
Modern Gallery, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1994', Ljubljana, Slovenia (Travelling Exhibition)
Center for Modern and Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Prague, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1994', Prague, Czech Republic (Travelling Exhibition)

1997 Newcastle Region Art Gallery, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1994', Newcastle, Australia (Travelling Exhibition)
City Art Gallery, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1994', Wellington, New Zealand (Travelling Exhibition)
Slovak National Gallery, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1994', Bratislava, Slovakia (Travelling Exhibition)

1996 Art Gallery of Western Australia, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1994', Perth, Australia (Travelling Exhibition)
National Gallery of Victoria, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1994' Melbourne, Australia (Travelling Exhibition)

1995 Mitsukoshi Museum, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1994', Shinjuku, Japan (Travelling Exhibition)
Daimaru Umeda Museum, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1994', Osaka, Japan (Travelling Exhibition)
Mitsukoshi, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1994', Niigata, Japan (Travelling Exhibition)
Fujisaki, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1994', Sendai, Japan (Travelling Exhibition)
Takashimaya, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1994', Yokohama, Japan (Travelling Exhibition)

1994 National Portrait Gallery, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', London, UK (Travelling Exhibition)
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Montreal, Quebec (Travelling Exhibition)
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Edinburgh, Scotland
Chicago Cultural Center, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Chicago IL (Travelling Exhibition)
National Museum of Wales, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Cardiff Wales (Travelling Exhibition)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Los Angeles CA (Travelling Exhibition)

1993 Art Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina 'Annie Leibovitz. Sarajevo', Sarajevo, Bosnia
Stedelijk Museum, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Amsterdam, Netherlands (Travelling Exhibition)
Friends of Photography, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', San Francisco CA (Travelling Exhibition)
Jacksonville Museum of Art, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Jacksonville FL (Travelling Exhibition)
10 Corso Como, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Milan, Italy (Travelling Exhibition)
Utah Museum of Fine Arts, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Salt Lake City UT (Travelling Exhibition)
Kunst Haus Wien, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Vienna, Austria (Travelling Exhibition)
High Museum of Art, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Atlanta GA (Travelling Exhibition)
Museum of Fine Arts, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Houston TX (Travelling Exhibition)

1992 Govinda Gallery, 'The White Oak Dance Project', Washington D.C. (Travelling Exhibition)
Phoenix Art Museum, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Phoenix AZ (Travelling Exhibition)
Münchner Stadtmuseum, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Munich, Germany (Travelling Exhibition)
Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Fort Lauderdale FL (Travelling Exhibition)
Centre national de la photographie, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Paris, France (Travelling Exhibition)
Institute of Contemporary Art, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Boston MA
Deichtorhallen, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Hamburg, Germany
Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Winston-Salem NC
Casa de Vacas, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Madrid, Spain
Joslyn Art Museum, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Omaha Nebraska (Travelling Exhibition)

1991 James Danziger Gallery, 'The White Oak Dance Project', New York City NY (Travelling Exhibition)
National Portrait Gallery, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', Washington D.C. (Travelling Exhibition)
International Center of Photography, 'Annie Leibovitz. Photographs 1970–1990', New York NY (Travelling Exhibition)

1986 Sidney Janis Gallery, 'Annie Leibovitz', New York NY

1985 Stephen Wirtz Gallery, 'Annie Leibovitz', San Francisco CA (Travelling Exhibition)

1984 Govinda Gallery, 'Annie Leibovitz', Washington D.C. (Travelling Exhibition)

1983 Sidney Janis Gallery, 'Annie Leibovitz', New York NY (Travelling Exhibition)

Group Exhibitions

2020 Couvent des Jacobins, ‘Le noir et le blanc dans la collection Pinault’, Rennes, FR

Bibliography

Selected Publications

2018 Hoffmann, Maja, Humery, Matthieu + [et al.], ‘Annie Leibovitz: The Early Years, 1970-1983’, Cologne: Taschen, 2018
Leibovitz, Annie ‘Annie Leibovitz at Work’, New York: Phaidon, 2018

2017 Fuller, Alexandra ‘Annie Leibovitz: Portraits, 2005-2016’, London: Phaidon, 2017

2014 Martin, Steve, ‘Annie Leibovitz’, Cologne: Taschen, 2014

2011 Kearns Goodwin, Doris, ‘Pilgrimage’, New York: Random House, 2011

2008 Leibovitz, Annie, ‘Annie Leibovitz at Work’, New York: Random House, 2008

2006 Leibovitz, Annie, ‘A Photographer’s Life’, New York: Random House, 2006

2003 Smith, Patti, Earle, Steve + [et al.], ‘American Music’, New York: Random House, 2003

1999 Sontag, Susan, ‘Women’, New York: Random House, 1999

1996 Leibovitz, Annie, ‘Olympic Portraits’, New York: Bulfinch, Little, Brown and Company, 1996

1991 Sischy, Ingrid, ‘Annie Leibovitz: Photographs 1970-1990’, New York: Harper Collins, 1991

1990 Acocella, Joan, ‘The White Oak Dance Project: 1990-1991 American Tour’, New York: Baryshnikov Production, 1990

1983 Wolfe, Tom, ‘Annie Leibovitz: Photographs’, New York: Pantheon, Rolling Stone Press, 1983

Selected Images

Installation view, ‘Annie Leibovitz. The Early Years, 1970 – 1983: Archive Project No. 1’, Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles, 2019

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