my last night in san diego was spent with two girlfriends at the san diego museum of art checking out the annie leibovitz exhibit “a photographers life, 1990- 2005”. like many others, i was inspired by her work years ago when i was a lowly undergrad spending all too many nights in the darkroom, coming home at 2 am smelling more like fixer than beer. the last time i went to one of her exhibits was in the mid-nineties in dc at the national portrait museum and i recall such a sense of inspiration and glamour. but unlike the dc visit, this exhibit goes far beyond the hollywood portraits of a-list celebs. of course the walls were peppered with images of everyone from brad pitt and nicole kidman to leonardo dicaprio and johnny depp (let’s take a moment to reflect on that one, shall we?). but for once we are able to get a more candid view of family, friendships, places visited, tragedies, pain, beauty, loss.
i love her ability to capture the subtle emotions in a portrait, and her less frequently seen, unique point of view on far-away places. but even more, i admire the strength of her character to stay in role and document stitches of life so full of fear and pain. with that i refer to several pieces – from the boy in sarajevo to the tutsi school massacre, the death of her father and of course, the thread woven throughout the entire exhibit – the illness and eventual death of her friend, writer susan sontag.
i could have spent hours there, but wine and dinner awaited at prado, and the crowd was more than i could deal with on a thursday night after almost two weeks away from home. with some down-time this weekend, i look forward to digging into the 3 inch thick book sitting on my window sill, full of the same photos with more stories and detail.
this review is really nicely written: http://www.artcritical.com/garwood/DGLeibovitz.htm
one of my favorite images:
Susan Sontag, Petra, Jordan, 1994. ©Annie Leibovitz