The Covid-19 pandemic and its quarantine and the George-Floyd-sparked Black Lives Matter call to march in the street demonstrations against racism have not put a stop to artistic expression. To the contrary, many artists have used this time as a way to explore making more personal art, and to contribute their talents to raise funds to support these causes.
Although photographer Annie Leibovitz quarantined at her home in upstate New York, she did not stop taking photographs. As anyone who saw her solo show last year at LA’s Hauser & Wirth can affirm, the camera has been Leibovitz constant companion, and a visual diary of wherever her work and her life has taken her.
The exhibition ‘Annie Leibovitz. Still Life’ is online as of June 20, 2020. In conjunction with the exhibition, and as part of Hauser & Wirth’s #artforbetter initiative, Leibovitz is offering a new print, Upstate, in an edition of 100. Priced at $1,000 (a Leibovitz print normally sells for many times that), 50% of the proceeds of sales will be split between Black Lives Matter and the Equal Justice Initiative; and the remaining 50% will go to the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization.
The online exhibit marries two bodies of work: one is a project completed before quarantine, of images she took of places where people from the past who were meaningful to her lived, such as images taken of Virginia Woolf’s writing desk, Emily Dickinson’s childhood herbarium and Georgia O’Keefe’s New Mexico home.
Leibovitz took the images originally just for herself. “It wasn’t for an assignment,” she explains in the exhibition’s press release. “It was very personal.I traveled alone to places that interested me. There were no people in the pictures. I photographed houses and landscapes and objects that belonged to the people who were no longer there.”
Also included in the online exhibition are photos Leibovitz took during the quarantine after revisiting the earlier work and which Leibovitz says, “are more of a response to the moment.”
The Annie Leibovitz print “Upstate” is a grid of nine images “of this moment” such as a puzzle being worked on, a preying mantis, a look out the window at night, the woods, a road at dusk—together they are a poignant evocation of time in quarantine.
Photographs by their very nature access the visible—the exterior of things. What the images in this online exhibition share in common is the details that make a place personal, personal to the person who lived there, and somehow intimate to the person looking at the image. That has always been Annie Leibovitz’s art, to make us see more in her images – more insight and more emotion. Even while in quarantine.