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Installation of Annie Leibovitz at the Académie des beaux-arts


On Wednesday March 20th, 2024, Annie Leibovitz will be installed as a Foreign associate member of the French Académie des beaux-arts by Sebastião Salgado, member of the Photography section.

Annie Leibovitz had been elected on November 23rd, 2022 as a Foreign associate member in chair V previously occupied by the architect Ieoh Ming Pei (1917-2019).

At the end of the installation ceremony, to be held under the Coupole of the Institut de France, Dame Anna Wintour CH DBE, Chief Content Officer,   Condé   Nast   and Global Editorial Director, Vogue, will present Annie Leibovitz with her academician’s sword.

This installation ceremony will be broadcasted live on the Académie des beaux-arts YouTube channel.

Annie Leibovitz became a working photographer while she was still a student at the San Francisco Art Institute. She began taking pictures in the summer of 1968 and two years later one of her photographs was on the cover of Rolling Stone, which was then a groundbreaking counterculture magazine based in San Francisco. She was Rolling Stone’s chief photographer by 1973. By 1983, when she left Rolling Stone to join Vanity Fair and then Vogue, her photographs had become widely recognizable and distinctive interpretations of the contemporary society.

Annie Leibovitz was influenced early on by the personal style of photographic reportage developed by Robert Frank and by the photojournalism of Henri Cartier-Bresson. The intimate engagement with her subjects evident in her journalism can be seen in the formal portraits of well-known people that she would later become known for. Intimacy remained a given in the work even as the range and approach of the photographs broadened. Over the years she would move from black-and-white to color, from covering rock concerts to making portraits of heads of state, from reportage to fashion, from graphically simple and straightforward composition to conceptually intricate digitally-based narratives.

Annie Leibovitz’s first major assignment was for a cover story on John Lennon. She became Rolling Stone’s chief photographer in 1973, and by the time she left the magazine, ten years later, she had shot one hundred and forty-two covers and published photo essays on scores of stories, including her memorable accounts of the resignation of Richard Nixon and of the 1975 Rolling Stones tour. In 1983, when she joined the staff of the revived Vanity Fair, she was established as the foremost rock music photographer and an astute documentarian of the social landscape. At Vanity Fair, and later at Vogue, she developed a large body of work — portraits of actors, directors, writers, musicians, athletes, and political and business figures, as well as fashion photographs — that expanded her collective portrait of contemporary life. She has also collaborated with many arts organizations. Annie Leibovitz has a special interest in dance, and in 1990 she documented the creation of the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Mark Morris.

Several collections of her work have been published. They include Annie Leibovitz : Photographs (1983) ; Annie Leibovitz : Photographs 1970-1990 (1991) ; Olympic Portraits (1996) ; Women (1999), in collaboration with Susan Sontag ; American Music (2003) ; A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005 (2006) ; Annie Leibovitz at Work (2008 and 2018) ; Pilgrimage (2011) ; Annie Leibovitz : Portraits, 2005-2016 (2017) ; Annie Leibovitz : The Early Years, 1970-1983 (2018), and Wonderland (2021).

Exhibitions of Annie Leibovitz’s work have appeared at museums and galleries all over the world, including the National Portrait Gallery and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., the International Center of Photography in New York, the Brooklyn Museum, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, and LUMA Arles.

Annie Leibovitz is the recipient of many honors. In 2006 she was made a Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. The previous year, in a compilation of the forty top magazine covers of the past forty years by the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME), she held the top two spots (#1 for the photograph of John Lennon and Yoko Ono taken for Rolling Stone the day Lennon was shot, and #2 for the pregnant Demi Moore in Vanity Fair). In 2009, she received the International Center of Photography’s Lifetime Achievement Award, ASME’s first Creative Excellence Award, and the Centenary Medal of the Royal Photographic Society in London. In 2012, she was the recipient of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art Award to Distinguished Women in the Arts and the Wexner Prize. In 2013 she received the Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities. She was the inaugural recipient of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Contemporary Vision Award in 2015. In 2018 she received the Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts from the National Museum of Women in the Arts and an honorary doctorate from the Rhode Island School of Design. Leibovitz has been designated a Living Legend by the Library of Congress. She lives in New York with her three children, Sarah, Susan, and Samuelle.


The Academician’s sword of Annie Leibovitz

It was the Academie who suggested that if I did not have a sword I could use my family sword…As much as I would have liked a real sword I knew in my heart that the sword should be symbolic…

Our land in Upstate New York runs along the Hudson River. That part of the Hudson River Valley is known for the special quality of light that has attracted painters for generations. My girls grew up there…vegetable gardens, chickens, walks and swims in the pond. It is our home.

We gathered some branches from the woods and Ariel Dearie – a florist I’ve worked with over the years and is my neighbor – discovered a method from the jewelry of French sculptor Claude Lalanne where the branches are dipped in copper using an electroforming process. Ariel then worked with Professor Brian Bergeron at the Rhode Island School of Design.

It is a great honor to have Anna Wintour present me with my sword. We know each other so well. Our friendship grew out of having a peer to talk to who is interested with the same degree of care and love for the work. As someone who has worked with Anna for over 40 years – she is way ahead of us – her sense of journalist is so ingrained. I have seen her passion, drive and brilliance.

Annie Leibovitz


Académie des beaux-arts
23, quai de Conti – 75006 Paris

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