From the beginning, when I was watching my children stand mesmerized over Niagara Falls, this project was an exercise in renewal. It taught me to see again.
– Annie Leibovitz
Abraham Lincoln’s hat and gloves. Sigmund Freud’s couch. Emily Dickinson’s only surviving dress. Elvis Presley’s 1957 Harley Davidson. These are just some of the revealing personal possessions of notable historical figures that Annie Leibovitz photographed on a journey through the United States and Great Britain between 2009 and 2011. The photographs featured in this nationally touring exhibition vividly demonstrate Leibovitz’s curiosity and fascination with the world around her.
Visitors familiar with Leibovitz’s staged and carefully lit portraits made on assignment for magazines and for advertising clients may be surprised by the new discoveries in this exhibition. In these seventy photographs, taken simply because Leibovitz was moved by the subject, the artist has captured the poignancy of these talismans and landmarks of American history with remarkable acumen.
Pilgrimage includes photographs that Leibovitz took at iconic locations in Northern California, including the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez. Many Bay Area residents know Ansel Adams’s landmark photographs and will see especially personal connections in Leibovitz’s images of Yosemite and Adams’s darkroom in Carmel.
Pilgrimage is an evocative and deeply personal statement by a photographer whose career now spans more than forty years and encompasses a broad range of subjects and stylistic influences.
Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The Bernie Stadiem Endowment Fund provided support for the exhibition. The C.F. Foundation of Atlanta supports the museum’s traveling exhibition program, Treasures to Go. The prints were made by David Adamson of Adamson Editions in Washington, DC.