A Photographic Pilgrimage at NYHS

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ANNIE LEIBOVITZ presents her own personal history and those of others in Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage, an exhibition of 81 photographs currently on display at the New York Historical Society. The photos document Leibovitz’s “roots” as well as her adventures over the course of two years spanning several subjects – from landscapes to furniture. Specifically, the exhibit focuses on the photos that “meant something to her,” as stated in the exhibition guide.

Leibovitz began taking photos for the exhibit in 2009 and continued throughout 2011 while touring the U.S. and eventually expanding to Europe. The exhibition includes groups of images relating to famous American and European figures. For instance, the first three images focus on Thomas Jefferson and were taken at his home in Virginia. Images 62-64 were taken at Charles Darwin’s London home and capture some aspects of his daily life.

While walking through the bright and open gallery space, images grouped along the walls draw the observer in. Understanding the subjects that Leibovitz portrays is simple, as long as one views them as the photographer’s immortalization of the passing of time, generations, and shifting cultures.

Leibovitz has mostly worked professionally for magazines such as Rolling Stone.

Most of her photographs, until now, were calculated, well-lit, and carefully orchestrated. The ones featured in Pilgrimage, however, are nothing of the sort. Leibovitz explains that the collection was a way of “saving [herself]” and renewing her love for her craft after a severe financial struggle.

Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage is open to the public at the New York Historical Society in Manhattan until February 22.