(AFP) – Jan 19, 2012
WASHINGTON — Far from the portrait photos that made her famous, a new exhibit by US photographer Annie Leibovitz shows her intimate journey in the footsteps of people or places that inspired her -- such as Niagara Falls or the home of Elvis Presley.
Called "Pilgrimage," Leibovitz put together the exhibition mostly in the United States and a little in England on a "personal journey into her cultural inheritance," said museum curator Andy Grundberg.
Through 64 photographs taken between April 2009 and May 2011, the show at the Smithsonian American Art Museum evokes images of former American president Abraham Lincoln, painter Georgia O'Keefe, British photography pioneer Julia Margaret Cameron and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
"She is known for mostly photographing portraits of celebrities and cultural figures for magazines and most of her museum shows have been about those pictures," Grundberg said.
"This show is a really new stage of her career where she's photographing historical figures."
The photographer, who is scheduled to speak about her work next week in Washington, says in the book associated with the exhibit ("Pilgrimage," Random House New York) how the project started during a visit to Niagara Falls with her three pre-teen daughters.
"From the beginning, when I was watching my children stand mesmerized over Niagara Falls, this project was an exercise in renewal," Leibovitz said. "It taught me to see again."
Examples include a Harley Davidson motorcycle at Graceland in Memphis to recall Elvis Presley or the waters of the River Ouse to hint at the suicide by drowning of English author Virginia Woolfe.
The exhibition, which is open until May 20, is scheduled to tour cities throughout the United States before returning to the Smithsonian American Art Museum for its permanent collection.
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