Tuesday, July 16, 2013

'Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage' at the San Jose Museum of Art

 Emily Dickinson. White Dress @SJMA

"Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage," now showing at the San Jose Museum of Art is an ultimately unsuccessful departure from from Leibovitz's usual carefully lit and celebratory celebrity shots.

These photos were taken simply because she wanted to and because something in them spoke to her. The title of the photographer's collection refers to her journey in taking the pictures.

I was underwhelmed by the show but then, I have never been a big fan. Celebrity photos are part of our worship of the shallow and the trivial; unfortunately, while the work is photographed with her usual skill, years of photographing the transitory star of the moment have left her "heart" a bit on the shallow side -- and it shows.

Now granted the last couple of years have been traumatic - Sontag's death in 2004 and Lebovitz's financial problems must be exhausting. But to photograph what's shown in SJ needs a different kind of photographer - say Gordon Parks with his deep connection to the the often forgotten details of our history.



Zoomie said...

Sad. I had heard about this project and thought it might be a refreshing change from her usual celebrity work. Sorry it doesn't measure up.

nancy namaste said...

Everybody's opinions differ - go and see and post your own version. Most reviews were neutral but a few were pretty scathing.

As I see it said...

If you're a competent, advanced amateur who understands what makes a good image, you, too, as I was, will be underwhelmed by the Pilgrimage images which I viewed today at the Columbia, South Carolina, Museum of Art. They were very pedestrian in composition and content, worthy of a personal album, to record the journey, but not worthy of being called great art. Leibovitz may be a great people photographer, but these "record" shots which were largely meaningless without the accompanying text, were quite ordinary. I feel no lack of humility in saying many of us will hold our heads up higher as we compare our images to hers.