What do John Lennon, Demi Moore, Muhammad Ali, Queen Elizabeth II and Scarlett Johansson have in common?
They, along with countless others, have found themselves positioned opposite the camera lens of legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Through Dec. 30, the Wexner Center for the Arts’ entire gallery space is taken up by more than 200 photos from Leibovitz’s collection – including her Master Set, 156 definitive images selected by her personally to show the arc and breadth of Leibovitz’s career.
“Each picture, to me, means something, has some kind of resonance,” Leibovitz says.
Though best known for her photos of famous people – which have appeared in the pages and on the covers of Rolling Stone, Vogue and Vanity Fair – Leibovitz shoots other subjects as well. These range from victims of the siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s to Las Vegas showgirls photographed in and out of their stage get-up. And there’s more to the exhibition than just portraits.
“Rather than depicting portraits in the usual way, she has (also) captured landscapes, interiors and objects,” says Sherri Geldin, director of the Wexner Center.
These shots include works from Leibovitz’s Pilgrimage collection, a series of places and objects associated with historical figures.
Leibovitz’s career stretches from 1970 – when, still a student at the San Francisco Art Institute, she was hired as a photojournalist by Rolling Stone – to the present day.
Among the iconic celebrity photos appearing in the Wexner Center’s space are the famous Rolling Stone cover photo of John Lennon naked and clinging to Yoko Ono; Bette Midler covered in roses; Clint Eastwood tied up with a rope; Chris Rock in whiteface; and Arnold Schwarzenegger shirtless and smoking a cigar while riding a horse Leibovitz didn’t even know he had.
“At the last minute, he said, ‘I have a horse. Should I bring a horse?’” Leibovitz says.
She’s even photographed presidents; Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama are all in her collection, as is a photo of a helicopter on the White House lawn, taken when it became clear Richard Nixon would not make himself available for a photo on the last day of his presidency.
“I was one of the last people to get a White House press credential for the day before (Nixon) was leaving,” Leibovitz says.
Garth Bishop is editor of CityScene Magazine. Feedback welcome at email@example.com.