I’ve had some great experiences at the Wexner Center. There was the Andy Warhol exhibit I visited with my dad and brothers, which featured a film called Blow Job and, at one point, involved Chase standing in front of a screen printed painting of dollar bills and angrily saying, “Why is this art?” Then there was the time H. and I took Chase to see Bill Callahan, an artist I had no familiarity with, in a artsily-lit room that was definitely one of the weirdest concert venues I’ve ever been in (and I’ve seen a concert in a renovated strip club). In general, the Wexner hosts some of the coolest cultural events in Columbus, and I was especially stoked to see their current Annie Leibovitz exhibit.
The bulk of the exhibit is made up of the Master Set, 156 images chosen by Leibovitz herself that make up “definitive edition” of her work. These were mostly her celebrity photos, and also some pictures of her family. A lot of them were extremely recognizable, such as this John Lennon and Yoko Ono photo that I actually didn’t even know was by Annie Leibovitz!
Some of them were glitzy and glamorous, but in plenty of them the subject was just hanging out. And then there was this truly amazing, wacky photo of Whoopi Goldberg, which I’m in love with.
“A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.”-Annie Leibovitz
Those photos were great, but probably my favorite part of the exhibit was Pilgrimage project, which (according to the Wexner Center) is “a series of photographs of interiors, landscapes, and talismanic objects attached to historical figures—Abraham Lincoln, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Georgia O’Keeffe, Annie Oakley, and Elvis Presley, among others.” What they fail to mention is that there were photos of LOUISA MAY ALCOTT’S HOUSE. And dolls. Even aside from Louisa May, this section of the exhibit was fantastic. I don’t know much about photography, or art at all, really. But I truly found these photographs inspiring, in the most basic sense of the word. I think it takes a lot to show a unique view of places a lot of people have seen, like Monticello, but that’s why Annie Leibovitz is probably the most famous living photographer in America. These photos made me realize there’s so, so much of this great big country that I haven’t seen.
If you’re near Columbus, I hope you can make it to the Wexner Center to check out this show. The Wex is the first place to exhibit the whole Master Set! It runs through December 30th, so you still have plenty of time. Important note: the first Sunday of the month is free. Also, if this entices you at all, at one point my boyfriend said the sentence, “I don’t know what to look at…this photo of R2-D2 or this photo of Scarlett Johannssen.” Something for everyone, you guys.
Image of Annie Leibovitz via Herron School of Art