Photographer Annie Leibovitz reignites her much loved Women series with a globe-trotting exhibition.
Over the past four decades no one has chronicled women more subtly, more intensely or more compassionately than American Annie Leibovitz, whose iconic photos of the globe’s most famous women were first collected in her 1999 book Women. Now 17 years later, financial titan UBS is bankrolling Leibovitz, a hands-off patronage more common in the Renaissance than today, to rekindle the series, displaying the ever-evolving exhibition Women: New Portraits at 10 global art capitals, including Istanbul, New York and Zurich, where the tour will finish at the end of the year.
“There is a complete human story in each picture,” said writer and feminist icon Gloria Steinem at the London opening, standing in front of a wall of new photos, including one of herself. A friend of Leibovitz, Steinem wrote the text that accompanies the exhibition, but the images speak louder than words: the new images particularly shine, from the forthright confidence of Misty Copeland, the first African American prima ballerina in the prestigious American Ballet Theater, to the mysterious, halogen-lit allure of filmmaker and journalist Laura Poitras, a photo that Leibovitz says she shot in less than an hour’s session.
The exhibition features both new and old portraits, including the before/after images of Las Vegas showgirls that Leibovitz says are some of the most meaningful pictures she’s taken, and the rough-and-ready exhibitions are set in offbeat spaces where the unframed aesthetic of the show, constantly growing with new photos (Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafza is next, noted on the wall with a yellow sticky note “Malala”), feels right at home. Beginning in March in San Francisco, the shows will be accompanied by a programme of talks, Women For Women, discussing topics of global relevance to women and women’s rights and ensuring the exhibition’s legacy, like the photos themselves, will be with us for a long time to come.
March 2016, Departures