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Annie Leibovitz Expands Women Portraits With Adele, Jenner

Jan 24, 2016, 10:10 PM EST
Photographer Annie Leibovitz at her show WOMEN: New Portraits Exclusive Commissioning Partner UBS.
Annie Leibovitz/UBS

Adele leans across the piano, her eyes closed in joy at the music; nearby, politician Aung San Suu Kyi poses formally; ballerina Misty Copeland stands on tiptoes and Queen Elizabeth II looks at home, as well she might, in Buckingham Palace. Taylor Swift and Malala rub shoulders with Caitlyn Jenner, who is dressed in a white leotard. These are all images in a free show simply titled “WOMEN: New Portraits” by photographer Annie Leibovitz now open in London as the first stage of a 10-city world tour.

Leibovitz said at the opening that global finance company UBS had approached her to commission work. “I said I would like to further the Women’s Project that I started with Susan Sontag in 1999 and I wanted to update it. They didn’t even hesitate; they just said ‘Go, do it.’ We also did it a little bit with Vogue magazine that helped us and more importantly Gloria Steinem who helped us with a list.”

The Wapping Power Station, which still retains its exposed red brick and metal beams, was an ideal building, she said. The mainly powerful women portrayed included include artists, entrepreneurs, writers, philanthropists, politicians and others such as Leibovitz’s own mother. There are tennis stars (the Williams sisters) and stage performers (such as stand-up comedian Amy Schumer.) The show follows Leibovitz’s Pirelli images which include Schumer. The 43rd edition of the calendar replaced the typical nude supermodels with 13 women of “outstanding professional, social, cultural, sporting, and artistic accomplishment,” none of whom are completely nude - though Schumer comes closest.

The photos will also enter the UBS Art Collection of more than 3,000 works. The company is also joining with the Photographers’ Gallery and Central St. Martins on workshop for families and students during the duration of the London event. This will be followed by a “Women for Women” talks program discussing relevant issues to the exhibition and that starts in San Francisco in March.

Leibovitz – who started as a Rolling Stone photographer – now has work in many national museums and has received honors such as the Prince of Asturias Award in 2013, while the Library of Congress designated her as a “Living Legend.”

“Women: New Portraits” runs from January 16 through February 7 at Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, London, before a 12-month tour that includes stops in Tokyo, San Francisco, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Istanbul, Frankfurt, New York and Zurich. Information: https://www.ubs.com/microsites/annie-leibovitz/en/exhibition.html

-- Mark Beech

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