In Singapore recently for the opening of her critically acclaimed exhibition at ArtScience Museum, the celebrated American photographer shared stories behind some of the photographs.
On her iconic image of a nude and pregnant Demi Moore for a Vanity Fair cover, she revealed that they were trying to figure out ways to avoid showing her being pregnant. After doing some close-ups, she suggested doing some nudes for Moore’s personal collection. As they started to shoot, Annie said that the photograph would make a great cover. She did not expect that the photograph would cause a sensation then.
Along with portraits of celebrities and well-known figures, the exhibition also showcases personal photos documenting scenes from Annie’s life including the birth and childhood of her three daughters, extended family and close friends; assignment work such as searing reportage from the siege of Sarajevo in the early 1990s and the election of Hillary Clinton to the US Senate; and large scale landscapes taken in Monument Valley in the American West and in Wadi Rum in the Jordanian desert.
When asked which her favourite photograph is, Annie picked a black and white portrait of her mother. She explained that she liked it because of the intimacy with the subject, and it was the kind of picture that she would not be able to take when she goes on her assignments.
Her mother was nervous and worried about looking old, but grew to like the photograph. Annie mused that she felt a Mona Lisa effect every time she looked at the picture – the expression of her mother changes and she could not tell if her mother is angry at her or loves her.
A highlight of the exhibition is two parallel walls: one with photographs from Annie’s assignment works and the other with photographs from her private life captured over fifteen years. They document the genesis of the book Annie Leibovitz A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005 as well as the selection process for the exhibition. The intense editing process eventually led to the fusing of both personal and assignment work in the exhibition.
Annie felt that she came of age with this work. It was liberating for her as it brought the personal into the realm of her assignment work – it was who she was and what she liked to do.
In parallel to the exhibition, ArtScience Museum is organising a series of portraiture photography weekend courses between June and October. Drawing inspiration from Annie Leibovitz’s work, these courses offer photography enthusiasts a better understanding of the different techniques and approaches to capturing the perfect portrait. Priced at S$200 per weekend course, each session includes a practical workshop with photo critique, a theory class and a facilitated discussion while viewing the works of Annie Leibovitz. Booking can be made at www.marinabaysands.com/ArtScienceMuseum.
Exhibition: Annie Leibovitz A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005
Dates: Till 19 October 2014
Venue: ArtScience Museum™ at Marina Bay Sands
Hours: 10am – 7pm daily, incl. weekends and PH. Last admission at 6pm.