Photo: Edouard Brane

Annie Leibovitz Elected As Académie des Beaux-Arts Foreign Associate Member

22 March 2024

Annie Leibovitz has been elected as a foreign associate member of the Académie des beaux-arts, by Sebastião Salgado, member of the Photography section. Leibovitz was elected in 2022 as a foreign associate member in chair V, previously occupied by the architect Ieoh Ming Pei (1917 – 2019), and joins artist William Kentridge who was elected in chair XIII in 2021.

At the installation ceremony, which took place on 20 March 2024, held under the Coupole of the Institut de France, Dame Anna Wintour CH DBE, Editorial Content Director of Condé Nast and Worldwide Editorial Director of Vogue, presented Leibovitz with her academician’s sword.  

‘It is a great honor to have Anna Wintour present me with my sword,’ said Leibovitz. ‘We know each other so well. Our friendship grew out of having a peer to talk to who is interested in the same degree of the care and love for the work. As someone who has worked with Anna for over 40 years—she is way ahead of us—her sense of journalist is so ingrained. I have seen her passion, drive and brilliance.’

Watch the ceremony including a speech by Anna Wintour and a performance by Patti Smith

Rather than opt for a classic sword, Annie Leibovitz’s symbolic Academician’s sword is close to her heart. Made of branches from wood found in her home along the Hudson River in Upstate New York, Leibovitz worked with Ariel Dearie—her neighbour and a florist she has worked with over the years—who discovered a method from the jewelry of French sculptor Claude Lalanne, where the branches are dipped in copper using an electroforming process.  

For the ceremony, Leibovitz was dressed in a custom-made uniform by Nicolas Ghesquière, Louis Vuitton’s Artistic Director of the Women’s Collections. In designing this uniform, Ghesquière chose a novel interpretation of the hallmarks of traditional Académie attire, basing it on one of his emblematic collections, the Women’s Spring-Summer 2017 frock coats, themselves inspired in shape and aesthetics by 18th century men’s attire. ‘It's a real honor to create the academician's habit for Annie Leibovitz, paying tribute to her photographic work as a talented, free and visionary artist,’ says Ghesquière.

Annie Leibovitz, Natalia Vodianova, Palais Garnier, Paris, 2014 © Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz, Louise Bourgeois, New York City, 1997 © Annie Leibovitz

The Académie des beaux-arts is one of the five academies that make up the Institut de France. It supports artistic creation in all its forms and protects France’s cultural heritage. It pursues its mission of supporting creation by assisting numerous artists and associations through the organization of competitions, the awarding of prizes, the financing of artists’ residencies and the granting of subsidies to artistic projects and events. A centuries-old institution, heir to the royal academies instituted in the 17th century, it now enjoys the same special status as the other academies, allowing it to administer itself freely.  

Learn more about Annie Leibovitz.