When a fashion magazine wants a gorgeous picture of a starlet, they turn to Annie Leibovitz. The veteran photographer of 40 ye
ars is famous for her portraits of musicians and actors — she’s even been declared a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress.
But for Pilgrimage, her new exhibition that is traveling to the Columbia Museum of Art, Leibovitz has abandoned portraits and focused on the ordinary things that have influenced her life. “The subject matter mostly focuses on American images — Elvis’s Graceland, Georgia O’Keeffe’s house, Niagara Falls. The theme is more, ‘How do these experiences influence me?,’ explains Jolene Ryan-Cook, deputy director of the Museum.
Leibovitz’s pictures are concerned with everyday details, from the patterns on Emily Dickinson’s dress to the gloves Abraham Lincoln wore when he was assassinated. “There’s no people in the pictures, which is odd for her. It touches more on who they are but not in a celebrity way,” Ryan-Cook says.
The Columbia Museum of Art is lucky to be showing the exhibition. Of the museums that applied, Columbia’s was the only one chosen in the Southeast. “We’re not sure why Leibovitz’s group chose us, but we’re very glad they did. We think it may be because we’ve become much more dynamic and successful in the last five to 10 years. The museum now has a national reputation.”
Visit Pilgrimage’s Opening Day on Oct. 4 for an illustrated lecture by curator Victoria Cooke. You can learn more about the exhibition at columbiamuseum.org/exhibitions/pilgrimage.
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