It has been said plenty of times that a picture is worth a thousand words. For Annie Leibovitz, leading a walk-through of her new exhibition at the Wexner Center for the Arts, a picture is worth about three to five pleasurable minutes of in-depth explanation and description.
Leibovitz led a guided tour of the exhibition for press Friday, which preceded the official opening of the three-part exhibition “Pilgrimage,” “the Master Set” and an informal push-pin wall of photographs taken by Leibovitz of artists that have shown work at the Wexner Center or have won the Wexner Prize.
The Wexner Prize is a $50,000 award which “recognizes living artists working in any medium or discipline whose achievements reflect bold originality, innovation and creative excellence,” according to the Wexner Center’s website.
The first stop on the tour was the image of Richard Nixon leaving the White House in 1974 on the day Nixon resigned. This famous shot, was taken while Leibovitz was on assignment for Rolling Stone Magazine with Hunter S. Thompson, who is known for creating gonzo, or first-person, journalism.
“We were young, we were crazy, it was Rolling Stone Magazine but the White House didn’t know what to do with us. But they knew they couldn’t ignore us, so they gave us credentials and let us do what we wanted to do,” Leibovitz said.
And so the stories began. Choosing a handful of photographs from the more than 200 currently on display, Leibovitz methodically, thoughtfully and eloquently gave a behind-the-scenes look into some of her most recognizable photographs.
From her 16-page Rolling Stone spread, to photographing Queen Elizabeth II, to the beauty behind the high-flying beach photo of dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, Leibovitz offered honest and profound stories behind the creation of each piece of art.
And she did so with such simplicity and ease, devoting at least three minutes to each photograph’s story, that I almost forgot she was the artist responsible for the work she was explaining.
I can’t wait to revisit the exhibit. With more time to reflect on the images and less crowd noise, I’ll be able to absorb Leibovitz’s oral representation of her visual work one photograph at a time.