Smithsonian American Art Museum
8th and F Streets, NW
2nd Floor, South Floor Plan
Unlike Annie Leibovitz’s staged and carefully lit portraits made on assignment for magazines and advertising clients, the photographs on view were taken simply because Leibovitz was moved by the subject. They speak in a commonplace language to her curiosity about the world she inherited, spanning landscapes both dramatic and quiet, interiors of living rooms and bedrooms, and objects that are talismans of past lives. Although there are no people in them, the pictures are in a certain sense portraits of figures that have shaped Leibovitz’s distinctly American view of her cultural inheritance. Visiting the homes of such iconic figures as Thomas Jefferson, Emily Dickinson, and Elvis Presley, as well as such places as Niagara Falls, Walden Pond, the Gettysburg battlefield, and the Yosemite Valley, she let her instincts and intuitions guide her to related subjects—hence, the title Pilgrimage. The pictures show Leibovitz at the height of her powers, unfettered by the demands of her career and pondering how photographs, including her own, shape a narrative of history that informs the present.
Related publication Pilgrimage