14 January 2015


"Annie Oakley's Heart Target" Annie Leibovitz/Contact Press Images

“Pilgrimage” at the New York Historical Society is an Annie Leibovitz show without a single movie star in sight. That’s because the photographs in the exhibit represent a two-year journey that Leibovitz took documenting places and objects associated with people from the past who have inspired her.

Beginning at Emily Dickinson’s home in Amherst, Massachusetts, she travelled across the US and UK seeking out the homes and haunts of people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Georgia O’Keefe, Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin, and even the King himself, Elvis Presley. She shot images of their homes, places connected to their stories, their personal possessions. Among the 78 images on display we see the hat and gloves that Abraham Lincoln wore the night of his assassination; Henry David Thoreau’s bed; a gown that belonged to singer Marion Anderson (one of the most impressive of the photos); Virginia Woolf’s ink-stained desk; one of Annie Oakley's target hearts, which she would shoot through the middle and pass out to fans; and Ansel Adams’ darkroom. There are also some locations that she found moving like Gettysburg and Niagara Falls, which she was visiting with her children when she came up with the idea for the project.

If you’re used to Leibovitz’ celebrity shots and are expecting glamour, this may not be the exhibit for you. But if you’re a history nerd like me who would gladly take the time to visit Julia Margaret Cameron’s house to see one of her camera lenses (like Leibovitz did) then you just might enjoy “Pilgrimage.”

“Pilgrimage” is at the New York Historical Society through February 22, 2015. For more information, visit here.

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