American photographer Annie Leibovitz will debut a new print in an edition of 100 to coincide with her forthcoming online exhibition ‘Still Life,’ opening on 20 June. As part of Hauser & Wirth’s #artforbetter initiative and in support of the urgent fight to dismantle systemic racism and police brutality in America, 100% of the proceeds of sales of ‘Upstate,’ a work comprising a grid of photographs Leibovitz has taken while in quarantine, will be split equally between Black Lives Matter, the Equal Justice Initiative, and COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization.
The online exhibition explores the importance of our sense of place. It includes images from a project completed by the artist before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic alongside a suite of recent photographs made during the lockdown. The exhibition showcases Leibovitz’s singular ability to combine portraiture and photojournalism with profound humanism and sly wit.
The earlier photographs in the exhibition are from a project Leibovitz made for herself in order to explore places that were inhabited by people from the past who mean something to her. ‘It wasn’t an assignment,’ she says. ‘It was very personal. I traveled alone to places that interested me. There were no people in the pictures. I photographed houses and landscapes and objects that belonged to people who were no longer there.’
The inner lives of artists are reflected in the delicate pressed flowers of Emily Dickinson’s childhood herbarium and the worn surface of Virginia Woolf’s writing desk. On a visit to Georgia O’Keeffe’s Abiquiu, New Mexico, home, Leibovitz finds a rattlesnake skeleton displayed under glass on her coffee table and at O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch house she photographs the small red hill that so often appeared as a monumental symbol of the American Southwest in O’Keeffe’s paintings. During a trip to England, she is shown bird specimens preserved by Charles Darwin, the intellectual basis of his life’s work. These journeys were exercises in personal and artistic renewal for Leibovitz.
The photographs from which the ‘Upstate’ grid are drawn document the landscape of the artist’s home in upstate New York, where she has been living during the quarantine period. She began taking the pictures after looking back at the earlier work. ‘I did finally start taking pictures here,’ she says. ‘Our road at night. Pieces of a puzzle based on the Waterhouse painting of the Lady of Shallot that my daughter is working on. A fish dropped by a heron. Are these new pictures even photographs? I don’t know. They are more a response to this moment.’
About the artist
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…Learn more