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Annie Leibovitz’s New Exhibit Celebrates Women

Annie Leibovitz New Exhibit Celebrates Women

The exhibition features her portraits of Michelle Obama, Aung San Suu Kyi and Amy Schumer, amongst other high profile figures.

Annie’s project began in 1999, a suggestion from her partner Susan Sontag, who passed away in 2004. It reflects the roles of women today and features women of outstanding achievement including artists, musicians, CEOs, politicians, writers and philanthropists.

The works have been presented more like an installation than a normal gallery exhibition, with a raw, gritty, red brick industrial space setting the mood for her authentic portraits.

‘Authentic’ barely gives weight to Annie’s craft. She puts it very simply, “What I love to do with my work is show what women do.”

Her portraits are real. That’s what’s so moving about them.

Annie Leibovitz New Exhibit Celebrates Women 1
Annie Leibovitz’s exhibit, Women: New Portraits. Image: Merry Brownfield.

Instead of using a swarm of directors and stylists, Annie has stripped back the elements. She’s not creating new characters with her photography, she is just showing you who they are. The way she captures the energy and personality of the women she pictures is magical.

Annie Leibovitz Ballerina Misty Copeland
Ballerina Misty Copeland. Image: Annie Leibovitz.

“The work is supposed to be democratic – all the frame sizes are fairly equal and you could have Hilary Clinton next to a homeless woman, there was no rhyme or reason,” says Annie.

Her work features a diverse range of subjects. To name a few, it includes: Adele, Lupita Nyong’o, primatologist Jane Goodall, ballerina Misty Copeland, restaurateur Alice Waters, Amy Winehouse and feminist writer Gloria Steinem, who spoke about the project:

“There have not been representations of women that show them as whole human beings, so this is remedial. Yes, men can be denied their full humanity, but not as much. Each one of these photographs is a novel, it is so amazing, there is a complete human story in every photograph.”

Annie Leibovitz with her portraits
Annie Leibovitz with her portraits. Image: Merry Brownfield.

Annie spoke to The Wharf about her project, saying, “It’s a story that’s never going to have an end”.

Annie is especially proud of convincing Queen Elizabeth 11 to pose for the exhibition.

Five years after a written letter was sent to the Queen, Annie made it to Buckingham Palace. Over her 63-year reign, the Queen has posed for over 130 portraits, however Annie was the first American to photograph Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace.

Queen? Check. Next challenge: German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“I am trying very hard for Merkel. I respect that she doesn’t want to do interviews or photographs because she has other things to do and she’s having a difficult time right now.

“I would probably shoot her working, which we have done with Hilary Clinton, I would love to do her just at work. I would be respectful of her not wanting to sit for a portrait.”

The exhibition continues in London until February 7 and will travel to nine other cities: New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Zurich, Istanbul, Frankfurt, Singapore, Tokyo and Mexico.

Written by Hannah Lising-White

Hannah Lising-White is The Carousel's fashion and lifestyle contributor.

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