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Santa Fe art: Annie Leibovitz Pilgrimage

Annie Leibovitz is an icon. She has photographed just about everyone who’s anyone over the last 40 years or so, including A-list movie stars, actors, fashion icons, politicians, authors and royalty. As Rolling Stone’s chief photographer for over 10 years she photographed music legends including the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and John and Yoko. The famous photo, that the pair said captured their relationship, was taken just hours before Lennon was killed.

Annie Liebovitz Pilgrimage

Annie Liebovitz poses in from of photo’s of Eleanor Roosevelt’ home near Val-Kill photo/Steve Collins

In 2009, at a time of personal crisis, she went on a photographic odyssey between paid jobs. She turned away from the human portraits that had made her famous to create portraits of the land and inanimate objects connected to famous people living and dead. The result is her book, Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage. The Smithsonian American Art Museum mounted an exhibit of photos from the book. The show, also called Pilgrimage, now on the road, opened at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum last week. Leibovitz was in town for the occasion.

Annie Liebovitz Pilgrimage

Annie Leibovitz, Niagra Falls, Ontario Canada, 2009 © Annie Leibovitz. From “Pilgrimage” (Random House, 2011)

Because Georgia O’Keeffe was one of the subjects of her quest, Leibovitz made several trips to New Mexico to shoot both places the artist had painted and her Abiquiu homes. Hearing Leibovitz speak at both the Lensic Performing Arts Center and at a press preview of her show, it’s clear that O’Keeffe had a strong impact on her and that the photographer loves the uniquely New Mexican color palette the artist captured.

Annie Liebovitz Pilgrimage

Annie Leibovitz, Georgia O’Keeffe’s pastels, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and Research Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2010 © Annie Leibovitz. From “Pilgrimage” (Random House, 2011)

The photos are all elegant and as composed in their own way as the people Leibovitz is famous for shooting. Whether it’s O’Keeffe’s box of pastels, Elvis’ shot out television set (there’s a story that goes with this), Pete Seeger’s workshop (another story), Eleanor Roosevelt’s beloved Val-Kill or Ansel Adams’ darkroom, they are all more than photos. Each object tells an important part of the owner’s story. The book, which the editor wrote after Leibovitz relayed each photographic experience, has all the stories that she relayed to her audiences and more.

Annie Liebovitz Pilgrimage

Annie Leibovitz, Elvis’s 1957 Harley-Davidson Hydra Glide motorcycle, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee, 2011 © Annie Leibovitz. From “Pilgrimage” (Random House, 2011)

Leibovitz likes the prints in the show, but expresses frustration with the final prints in the book. They looked great In the proofs, but something happened between proof and book. Her hope is to one day be able to print it on her own. She’s a tough taskmaster with high standards for herself and probably those around her. That is the price of genius and Annie Leibovitz has it in spades.

Annie Leibovitz Pilgrimage will be at the O’Keeffe Museum until May 5, 2019.

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2 Responses to “Santa Fe art: Annie Leibovitz Pilgrimage”

  1. Leigh
    February 21, 2019 at 8:08 pm #

    Sounds like a great show to take in - and if only I was in Santa Fe to do it. You have a very rich cultural life for such a small city.
    Leigh recently posted..Discovering Bogota, Colombia via a Bike TourMy Profile

    • Billie Frank
      February 21, 2019 at 8:58 pm #

      We have an amazing cultural life for a small city. One of the reasons I’m happy living here.

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