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 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, spanning landscapes both dramatic and quiet, interiors of living rooms and bedrooms, and objects that are talismans of past lives.
The exhibition includes 64 photographs taken between April 2009 and May 2011. The Smithsonian American Art Museum is acquiring the works on display in the exhibition for its permanent collection.
The 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. Visiting the homes of iconic figures including Thomas Jefferson, Emily Dickinson, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pete Seeger, and Elvis Presley, as well as places such as Niagara Falls, Walden Pond, Old Faithful, and the Yosemite Valley, she let her instincts and intuitions guide her to related subjects—hence the title “Pilgrimage.” Some of the pictures focus on the remaining traces of photographers and artists she admires, such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Ansel Adams, and Robert Smithson.
Pilgrimage is an evocative and deeply personal statement by a photographer whose career now spans more than forty years, encompassing a broad range of subject matter, history, and stylistic influences. Together the pictures show Leibovitz at the height of her powers, unfettered by the demands of her career and pondering how photographs, including her own, shape a narrative of history that informs the present.
Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage is organized for the Smithsonian American Art Museum by 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. Joann Moser, senior curator, is the coordinating curator at the museum.
Annie Leibovitz’s personal ‘Pilgrimage’
In this exclusive USA TODAY video, famed photographer Annie Leibovitz, best known for her celebrity shots for Vanity Fair, reads passages from her very personal new book, Pilgrimage.
Annie Leibovitz – Pilgrimage Interview with David Letterman (Nov.8/11)
The exhibition is presented in conjunction with a new book by Annie Leibovitz, Pilgrimage, published by Random House. It is available for purchase ($50) in the museum store and at bookstores nationwide.
Free Public Programs
SOLD OUT—January 24, 2012, Artist Talk, Annie Leibovitz
May 19, 2012, Striking a Pose Family Day
In the News
DC Magazine, January 2012, “States of Grace” by Karen Sommer Shalett
Smithsonian, January 2012, “Annie Leibovitz’s American Pilgrimage” by Terence Monmaney
Washingtonian, January 2012, “Annie Leibovitz Discusses ‘Pilgrimage’” by Sophie Gilbert
NPR’s Talk of the Nation, November 8, 2011, “Leibovitz Takes A ‘Pilgrimage’ For Artistic Renewal”
The New York Times, October 30, 2011, “A Pilgrim’s Progress” by Dominique Browning
Following its presentation in Washington, D.C., Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage will tour nationally. If you are interested in hosting the exhibition at your museum, please visit our traveling exhibitions page for contact information.