Annie Leibovitz was the first artisitic photographer I came to know about. Although I have been a keen photographer myself ever since I was a child, I never considered photography as a form of art. ‘Art’ was something I associated with painters, sculptors and writers. Photography was something that I considered to be a technical skill. All this changed however when I saw the pictures Annie Leibovitz took for an advertising campaign for American Express. This was the first time I experienced that a photographer could have an own, recognizable style.
I have been an ardent fan of Annie Leibovitz ever since. As a matter of fact, the first photography book that I bought was ‘Photographs 1970-1990’ from Annie Leibovitz.
This book has the famous picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono on the cover, a picture which Annie Leibovitz shot shortly before John Lennon was murdered.
Although I bought photo books from many different photographers afterwards, Annie Leibovitz however remained my absolute heroine.
A couple of years later I bought another book from her called ‘Women’. This book (published in 2000) is entirely dedicated to women from all walks of life: the arts, the armed forces, entertainment, hospitality, sports, etc. It proved to be a fantastic purchase; it is a book I keep going back to. The essay at the beginning of the book is from her deceased partner Susan Sonntag, and is quite interesting as well. As a man I first wondered why you would make a book only about women, but Susan Sonntag’s essay completely convinced me.
I was thrilled when UBS commissioned Annie Leibovitz to do a follow-up project called ‘Women – New Projects’. Not only did UBS commission her to do these portraits, UBS also generously organized a travelling exhibition of the pictures to 10 major cities around the globe.
Her new series of pictures of women are absolutely amazing; I cannot wait to buy a book with them if and when this is published. The new series consist of portraits of 39 women, again from all walks of life.
They include unknown heroes like Denise and Linamandla Manong (who are caring for Aids patients in South-Africa) and Andrea Medina Rosas (who fights for the rights of women in Mexico), to well-known artists like Cindy Sherman and Sally Mann, singers Adele and Patti Smith, Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi and businesswoman Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook.
In Zurich the exhibition is shown in Unterwerk Selnau, an old industrial building of the electricity company of Zurich. A wonderful industrial setting to see the pictures. The only drawback was that the pictures themselves were shown on a relatively small format (I guess 70 cm x 50 cm or so) and all on one wand of approx. 10m by 2 m). This meant all visitors had to stand in a small area and in all kind of awkward positions to be able to see the original works.
Additionally the works were shown in two slide show on large screens, but for me personally that does not really work. When I see photographs I prefer to see them in large print and in my own stride, but perhaps I am over-critical…
Let’s hope a book with the pictures will find its way to the printers soon!
The pictures below of the exposition were taken by me with an iPhone 6+ and post processed in Lightroom.