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Saturday, January 31, 2009

The inspiring Annie Leibovitz

It is always a wonderful experience when travelling when you come across an opportunity you weren't expecting. Such was the case for me when I spied a poster in a local cafe promoting the Annie Leibovitz exhibit at the Brevard Art Museum. Not only did I not know there even was a Brevard Art Museum, but Annie Leibovitz is a famed photographer I have always admired. I was so pleasantly surprised to discover that I would be able to view a collection of her photographs, right here!

So yesterday the captain and I ventured out to the exhibit. After paying the grand sum of five dollars each to enter the museum, we were treated to three rooms showcasing a collection of Annie Leibovitz's portraits of women, all in a very large format. If this exhibit comes anywhere near you, go! It's stellar. She has such a talent for capturing people; it is evident in her photographs that she gets her subjects to move beyond the awkwardness of having their photograph taken. One stunning photo was of three young women, all members of a street gang (the Crips, if I remember correctly). The portrait of the three was shot in black-and-white and it is so obvious when viewing the photo that while the three are trying to look tough (and, yes, they do look streetwise and edgy) there is a definite air of vulnerability to them.

But I think my favourite three of the many we viewed were of Toni Morrison, Martha Stewart, and Oprah Winfrey. Morrison is photographed from the side and slightly to the back, in black and white, with the sky behind her framing her face as she looks joyously upward. Beautiful. Martha Stewart's portrait is in muted colours; Martha is leaning against the bed of a pickup truck, arms crossed, looking pensively off in the distance. It is so un-Martha; it is almost sad. And you have likely seen the portrait of Oprah -- sitting on the front steps of a ramshackle home, without makeup or any of the trappings of her success and wealth. A stunning black and white image. You can see a small version of it here.

I do not do portrait photography and the truth is that people figure very rarely in my art. One exception is above, a photograph I took while riding the subway last year, but it is in no way a true portrait but rather what I call a "street candid", as the woman did not know I was taking photographs.

It was a treat to discover this local art museum (and also discover a great little art supply store just a block away from it, with an old-fashioned bakery right across the street) but it was particularly special to view these wonderful images that are so, so different from my own art. A real inspiration.

1 comment:

nancy said...

WOW, sounds like a great experience, again, i wish i was there, nancy
p.s. 15 more cm of snow coming tomorrow

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