Annie sez

I KNEW THE IMAGES before I knew the photographer—the iconic pictures of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Demi Moore and my favorite, a sassy Ella Fitzgerald with a leopard skin tucked under her arm.

 And then sometime in the 90s,  anyone following pop culture or photography or seeing Vanity Fair on the newsstand, saw Annie Leibovitz become as celebrated as the people she shot.

I met her last week at Pace Gallery—me jet-lagged from travel in Italy and she doubly distracted by the hanging of her show (in town only three days, a sort of pop-up show), and her daughter’s dental surgery. We sat on the floor of the gallery and talked about her new work, which, while about famous people, doesn’t include any.

Her new book, “Pilgrimage” peeks inside the spaces of people she admires, and documents the things they left behind. The images set up narratives that seemed as though someone just left the frame. In some scenarios it looked like the owners of these goods were coming back in some kind of time-travel fantasy—Georgia O’Keefe might pick up her pastels, Annie Oakley might step into her riding boots and stride off or Emily Dickinson would slip her prim, embroidered dress over her head. Other stories you couldn’t imagine a life re-activated: the top hat and blood-stained gloves Abraham Lincoln wore on this last night to the theater.

The book also includes landscapes, but I think these intimate looks into the lives of others are more curious.

You can read the story from The Wall Street Journal two ways: PDF of the online story or PDF of the print version (recommended for the visuals alone).

Photo of Annie Leibowitz: Julie Glassberg for The Wall Street Journal

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