Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage charts a new direction for one of America’s best-known living photographers. Unlike her staged and carefully lit portraits made on assignment for magazines and for advertising clients, the photographs in this exhibition were taken simply because Leibovitz was moved by the subject. The images speak in a commonplace language to the photographer’s curiosity about the world she inherited. Included are landscapes both dramatic and quiet, interiors of living rooms and bedrooms, and objects that are talismans of past lives. The exhibition, which includes approximately 70 photographs taken between April 2009 and May 2011, will be on view at the San Jose Museum of Art from June 6, 2013, through September 8, 2013.
“From the beginning, when I was watching my children stand mesmerized over Niagara Falls, this project was an exercise in renewal,” said Annie Leibovitz. “It taught me to see again.” These pictures, although there are no people in them, are in a certain sense portraits of subjects that have shaped Leibovitz’s distinctly American view of her cultural inheritance. She visited the homes of historic figures, (including Eleanor Roosevelt, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Pete Seeger, and Elvis Presley), as well as iconic places such as Niagara Falls, Gettysburg, and the Yosemite Valley, and let her instincts and intuitions guide her to related subjects—hence the title “Pilgrimage.”
“These pictures may surprise even those who know Leibovitz’s photography well,” said guest curator Andy Grundberg, former New York Times photography critic and associate provost and dean of undergraduate studies at the Corcoran College of Art + Design, Washington, D.C. “They are more intimate, personal, and self-reflective than her widely published work, combining the emotional power of her recent black-and-white portraits of her family with an awareness of her own cultural legacy. All photographs are in a sense intimations of mortality, but the pictures of ‘Pilgrimage’ make this connection explicit.”
Says Susan Krane, Oshman Executive Director, “We are honored to have Leibovitz’s poignant images on view at the San Jose Museum of Art and we were especially eager to bring Pilgrimage to the diverse audiences of Silicon Valley, whose experiences of America, past and present, are so varied and wide-ranging. In this project, Leibovitz also gives viewers special insights into the creative process, a subject that is at the heart of the Museum’s mission.”
Pilgrimage includes photographs that Leibovitz took at iconic locations in Northern California, including the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez and the Yosemite Valley. Bay Area residents familiar with Ansel Adams’s photographs of Yosemite may make especially personal connections with Leibovitz’s images. Leibovitz spent days Yosemite chasing clouds similar to those that Adams saw there and also photographed Adams’s darkroom in Carmel, California.
Pilgrimage is an evocative and deeply personal statement by a photographer whose career now spans more than 40 years and encompasses a broad range of subject matter, history, and stylistic influences. Together, these pictures show Leibovitz at the height of her powers as she ponders how photographs, including her own, shape a narrative of history that informs the present.
Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The Bernie Stadiem Endowment Fund provided support for the exhibition. The C.F. Foundation of Atlanta supports the museum’s traveling exhibition program, Treasures to Go. The prints were made by David Adamson of Adamson Editions in Washington, D.C.
The exhibition’s engagement in San Jose is sponsored by Bank of America, Carol and Gerry Parker, and the Myra Reinhard Foundation.
The Museum plans an array of public programs in conjunction with the exhibition, including an opening reception on Wednesday, June 5.
SAN JOSE MUSEUM OF ART
The San Jose Museum of Art celebrates new ideas, stimulates creativity, and inspires connection with every visit. Welcoming and thought-provoking, the Museum rejects stuffiness and delights visitors with its surprising and playful perspective on the art and artists of our time.
The San Jose Museum of Art is located at 110 South Market Street in downtown San Jose, California. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 PM to 5 PM and until 8 PM or later on the third Thursday of each month. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens, and free to members and children under 6. For more information, call 408-271-6840 or visit www.SanJoseMuseumofArt.org.
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Programs at the San Jose Museum of Art are made possible by generous operating support from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the Lipman Family Foundation, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, the Koret Foundation, a Cultural Affairs grant from the City of San Jose, and, with support for exhibition development, Yvonne and Mike Nevens.
San Jose Museum of Art