Annie Leibovitz | The Early Years, 1970 – 1983: Archive Project No. 1

by BJ Panda Bear

With a career spanning decades, and not slowing down anytime soon, Annie Leibovitz is now revisiting her past works on display at Hauser & Wirth LA and presented by the LUMA Foundation. Open in the spaces north gallery the daunting show of over 4000 images is meant to consume and overwhelm audiences. Though the photographic auteur is known for her highly glossy portraits that often become immediate classics, this retrospective presents the viewer with works from her time as a photo journalist and most strikingly, images of her personal life.

During the preview Leibovitz walked us through the gallery and reflected on the stories behind her work including tripping on mescaline at the White House during the Nixon years, her time spent working with Hunter S. Thompson, and her fears of losing her job at Rolling Stone to follow The Rolling Stones for a year on tour. The most charming was her intimate life, in particular a portrait of her mother who was a dancer and the epiphany of removing the mother from the woman and viewing her solely as a performer through the camera lens.  

The show is displayed through a walled labyrinth which moves the viewers body and eyes through an experience, capturing that similar iconic sensation of any of her contemporary works. Though the images here capture these pop icons in moments of ease, a few portraits of Diana Vreeland as casual as she could ever be, Elton John vulnerable and cool, Andy Warhol in the middle of screen printing Mick Jagger. 

Annie Leibovitz | The Early Years, 1970 – 1983: Archive Project No. 1 runs April 14 at Hauser and Wirth LA

901-909 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013